LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Raven Sanders is in the smoke year round at his food truck, Red Barrel BBQ and Catering. 

Once a year, the pitmaster takes a break from his regular operations and takes his grill and pounds of meats to Chickasaw Park in Louisville for the "Stop the Violence, Put the Beef on the Grill" event. 

What You Need To Know

  • Stop the Violence's organizer, Raven Sanders, owns a BBQ food truck and catering business

  • The annual free event started in 2014 to honor the lives gun violence victims

  • Sanders lost multiple loved ones to gun violence in the neighborhood 

  • Mental health professionals and health screenings were available at the event

Hoping to bring the community together, Sanders wants it to be a chance to talk about problems rather than resort to the type of violence the city has been seeing this year.

“It takes five pounds of pressure to pull the trigger. Two seconds and 5 pounds of pressure, so come on let's talk: let's talk about let's put the beef on the grill,” Sanders said.

Chickasaw Park is a place Sanders knows well, having lost multiple people close to his heart to gun violence in the neighborhood.

Sanders said his cousin was shot and killed in front of her family. Around that same time he lost two close friends. 

“One of my friends was shot in the back of his head while he was driving. Another friend was shot on the back porch and his mom had to find me,” Sanders said. 

Sanders honors his lost cousin and friends through the event and invites others to do the same for gun violence victims they’ve loved.

It’s also his way to recover the unity in the community. 

“We’ve got black, white, everybody out here. Everybody's out here, young, old because it affects everyone,” he said. 

To nourish the minds, bodies and souls, along with BBQ, those who attended had access to vaccines, glucose and blood pressure testing, ministers and mental health professionals.

Sanders believes addressing mental health issues is a big part of the solution. 

“Our children are dying at an alarming rate due to gun violence. Mothers and fathers are burying the children due to gun violence,” Sanders said. “Put the guns down, pick up a Bible, pick up a hammer, pick up a book, something. Let's talk about it." 

When he first started the event, Sanders said he paid for everything out of his own pockets. Now family, friends and a list of businesses and organizations help sponsor the event.