Anti-violence advocates ‘lock arms for peace’ in Providence


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In wake of the recent mass shootings across the country and gun violence in Providence, the annual Lock Arms for Peace event was held in the capital city on Friday.

The event was created by community activist Kobi Dennis to honor his friend Diana Garlington’s daughter, Essence Christal, who was shot and killed in 2011.

Garlington, a community activist and a member of the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, says she wants police to keep investigating the many unsolved murders in Providence including her daughter.

“In 2011, I lost my daughter to gun violence,” Garlington said. “She was killed in a drive-by shooting on Broad Street.”

Photo of Essence Christal. (Photo Courtesy Diana Garlington)

Garlington also emphasized the importance of promoting healing for the community.

“We want the police and detective division to do anything we can do to solve these murders,” she said. “It’s hurtful to have my daughter’s name as a number on a piece of paper. We don’t want our children to be labeled as numbers.”

The event follows a series of shooting incidents earlier this week, including the city’s 9th homicide of 2019.

Flow nightclub on Cranston Street was ordered closed after a shooting early Monday morning sent one to the hospital. Police arrested two men they say are connected to the shooting and are still searching for the gunman.

Then on Wednesday, police in Providence said a car involved in a crash on Broad Street was connected to a shots fired incident nearby. Several hours later, police said a 34-year old man identified as Adrian Shepard was shot and killed while sitting in a parked SUV on Eddy Street.

Dennis said the ‘lock arms for peace’ event serves as “a reminder to politicians, parents, people in the neighborhoods, and people who have lost their loved ones that we need to continue to fight against gun violence. People come out and share their stories of grief and also remind us that their loved ones are real people and not just numbers.”

People from different communities took part in Friday’s event.

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