PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — There was a shining light on a dark reality Tuesday as one community gathered to remember victims of gun violence.
The First Unitarian Church in Providence hosted a “National Vigil for Victims of Gun Violence” just days before the 5th anniversary of the Sandy Hook School shooting that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut.
“I always thought the most difficult thing for a parent was to lose a child,” Tom Wojick of Cranston said. “But losing a child by being torn up by bullets was so incomprehensible to me.”
Providence City Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune shared her story of loss for the first time at the vigil. Her significant other was shot and killed randomly in New York City more than 10 years ago.
“I still remember when his mother called me the next morning to tell me what had happened. How she had gone to the morgue to identify him,” LaFortune said to the crowd. “A smart, innocent, brilliant young man who was going to change the world and his community. His life was taken away because someone had a gun in their hand, someone who shouldn’t have had a gun, who thought he was someone else.”
A quilt was hung at the center of the church, made from the clothing of people killed by gun violence in Rhode Island.
It was a somber ceremony, with a call for change.
In October, Governor Gina Raimondo signed legislation prohibiting domestic abusers from owning guns. It took years to get the bill passed and was a big move for the state. But those who spoke at the vigil said it is not enough.
“There’s already this pipeline to prison,” LaFortune said. “But let’s create a pipeline to college, to the workforce, because this needs to stop.”
According to FBI statistics, 11,000 people fell victim to gun violence in the United States in 2016.