BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Buffalo community gathered to remember victims of gun violence at the Pilgrim Baptist Church on Michigan St. Monday night. Sept. 25 marks the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.
Monday night’s service was emotional as many families gathered to share their loved one’s stories and call for change in the community to end this violent crime.
“When is enough enough? What do we have to do as people to get our kids to understand that none of this is good?” Demetrius Harper, whose son was killed, said.
Others called for change in both the laws and communities to keep every neighborhood safe.
“Are we in a war? What is the purpose of a semi-automatic gun doing in a neighborhood?” Marsha McWilson, whose son Jaylen was killed earlier this year in front of their Niagara Falls home.
“We gotta look at each other. I don’t know when it started, ‘Let’s pick up a gun and settle our beef’,” Pastor Frank Bostic of Pilgrim Baptist Church said.
The National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims was established in 2007 after the family of a gun violence victim called on Congress to recognize the day. P.E.A.C.E., Inc. hosted the event in Buffalo to remember the lives taken too soon. The organization provides critical resources to families of victims and gun violence survivors.
Local non-violence groups say their goal is to curb gun violence across Western New York and remember the victims and their families.
“[By being here], I’m able to show everybody as long as I have breath, I’m going to honor my sons and my grandchild and let them know that they was loved and that someone cared,” Jacqueline Wells, a parent of two gun violence victims and board member of P.E.A.C.E., Inc., said.
“There’s support out here and the pain never goes away, but we can support one another in strength because it’s hard,” Mae Bynum, parent of a gun violence victim and member of Mother’s Against Violence, told News 4.
The service included prayer, songs and the opportunity to share stories. The organization hopes this ceremony, along with its other programs, empower survivors of homicide victims to rebuild their lives one day at a time.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, help is available now. Erie County’s Crisis Hotline is available 24 hours a day: 716-834-3131.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy-nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.