PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As the sun set in Providence Friday, those who have lost loved ones to gun violence gathered to honor their memories.
Among the crowd was Gemelya Barros, whose 22-year-old daughter was killed in July 2012.
“When violence happens, we want to shut down and close out the world,” Barros said. “But when you’re surrounded by other people, even in pain and even in sorrow … there’s love and support.”
Barros encouraged those who attended the candlelit vigil on Broad Street that in order to move forward, you have to live your life the way your loved one would’ve wanted you to.
“We can’t die too,” she said. “We have to keep finding a glimmer of hope — something that happens within or something that sparks. Remembering our loved ones by saying ‘you know what? I remember what they mean to me, so I’m going to embody them and get stronger and get better.'”
While her daughter’s killer is behind bars, there were several families at the vigil who are still seeking justice.
Melissa DaRosa, a victim advocate for the Providence Housing Authority and Pawtucket City Council member, attended the vigil to honor 20-year-old Jontel Tavares, who was shot and killed last year.
“It’s an unsolved homicide,” she said.
DaRosa hopes the vigil, which took place during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, will serve as a reminder that no one is alone in their grief.
“This is a good way to bring everyone together so they can meet each other and hopefully, if they are having a day or a moment of grief, they have someone who understands and can help them through it,” DaRosa said.