BALTIMORE — 2020 started with a group remembering all those lives taken in 2019, 348 homicides.
Every year, on New Years Day, people gather at the March East Funeral home to remember the murder victims of the year before. It's organized by Daphne Alston, the co-founder of Moms of Murdered Sons and Daughters United. Alston started the organization after her son was shot and killed in 2008.
"Our children our dying. We have an epidemic of violence," said Alston. "It's a heavy heart."
She started off the ceremony reading some of the names. Then others spoke and continued to read the names. Everyone who spoke had a loved one taken from them because of the violence in the city.
"I’m looking at all these names and thinking about all these families the heartache and the grief," said MIke Makel, who's son was murdered in 2016.
Cynthia Bruce, who's son was killed in 2015, said, "it's still hard. I still miss my son everyday. And I feel it for all these families that I’m reading the names today."
"People always say I’m sorry for your loss but the names that you heard today were not souls that were lost those were lives that were taken. I never say my son died. I say my son was murdered," said Victory Swift, who's son was killed in 2017.
She had to read her sons name at last year's ceremony. Now, she she shares her story and helps others in the community.
"It is our fear and our silence that allows this violence to occur," said Swift. "At some point we have to say enough is enough. At some point we have to be so angry that we say no more. At some point that has to happen. Otherwise we’ll allow ourselves to become perpetual victims."
They ended with a prayer of healing for these families and healing for the city.
Alston was a little disappointed in the turnout for the ceremony but said as long as those people take action, that's all that matters. She said it's going to take the community to change the culture.