BALTIMORE, Md. — Baltimore City ended 2018 with 308 homicides, which means more than 300 families began the new year missing a loved one lost to the city's violence.
A group gathered at the March funeral home in east Baltimore on New Year's Day to honor the memory of those killed in 2018.
They didn't gather go to say goodbye to a loved one, but to keep their memory alive.
The group calls itself MOMS, Mothers of Murdered Sons and Daughters. They are mothers who want people to remember the name of each life lost.
MOMS co-founder Daphne Alston lost her son Tariq Alston ten years ago. Organizing the New Year's Day event is personal for her.
“We do it so that we don’t want those young people to be forgotten, now we even have some elderly people and some babies, we don’t ever want them to be forgotten,” Alston said.
Attending the day's event is cathartic for Latanya Bryant and for others.
“Some of us just cry, and just listen to the other talk, that’s about it, that’s where I find my strength at,” Bryant said.
These mothers can relate to the pain others may be feeling.
“I lost my son 10 years ago to homicide, not in the city, but in Harford County, where you know you have a tendency to live in the counties 'oh, that doesn’t happen out here, we’re safe out here,' but it does happen,” Alston said.
Bryant lost her son to gun violence in 2014.
“He was robbed and carjacked, in the city. Worst thing, worst feeling,” Bryant said.
“Everything else I do is very easy to me now, dealing with this pain, there’s nothing you can take for it,” Bryant added.
Cynthia Bruce lost her 23-year-old son Marcus Downer to violence in 2015.
“He was shot multiple times, the person who did the murder is still on the loose,” Bruce said.
“My son Marcus, a lot of people knew him, was a joy. Everyone that came across Marcus loved Marcus. He had an infectious smile that lit up any room,” Bruce added.
As the mothers read the names of the 308 people killed in the city last year, many recognize it's a list too long to comprehend.
“I think the number is astronomical as it is every year. It’s a little lower, but I don’t know if it’s lower because they’re doing something about the crime or if its lower because we’re running out of young men and women to kill,” Alston said.
These moms might have lost their loved ones, but they haven't lost their hope.
“My wish is that, these young men will put the guns down, and know what it is that a mother when she lose a part of her, it’s like I lost a part of my heart,” Bruce said.
“I know that they have to have a conscience, whether it’s a good conscience or a bad conscience. You’re living with this just as well as we are. Every single day you’re living with this. So, to kill somebody and walk around here as though nothing happened, it’s impossible,” Bryant said.
“There’s nothing really no man can do, we just have to be proactive and work on those things that have got us this far. Hopefully, our new generation won’t experience any of this. It’s no one in particular’s fault,” Alston said.
MOMS decided to hold its meeting at a funeral home to make a statement that the loss of life is real.
“It’s tough, I get teary eyed as we speak now but we’ve got to keep pushing on,” Bryant said.