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Walk for Peace organizer: ‘We have the power within us to heal from the hurt’

Isaura Mendes, who lost two sons to violence, takes part in the 20th Anniversary of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute's Mother's Day Walk for Peace.
Isaura Mendes, who lost two sons to violence, takes part in the 20th Anniversary of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute's Mother's Day Walk for Peace. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)

Hundreds marched on a rainy, chilly Mother’s Day morning from Dorchester to City Hall to show support for families grappling with the trauma of losing a loved one to violence, as police investigated a shooting that left a man wounded in Roxbury Saturday.

“We say in one loud voice, ‘We rise up and we tilt the scale for justice,’ ” Tina Chery told marchers gathered at Town Field Sunday. “We rise up this morning today to publicly show that we are a community, and that we are better than the narrative that captures the headlines.”

Chery founded the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute in honor of her 15-year-old son, who was caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout in 1993. The teen had been on his way to a Teens Against Gang Violence meeting.

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This year is the 25th anniversary of the founding of the peace institute, which has organized the annual Walk for Peace since 1996.

“Yes, we are in pain; yes, we are angrier than most survivors; yes, there is that bitter thirst for revenge inside of our blood,” Chery said. “Yet, we show up to say that we have the power within us to heal from the hurt.”

The march began less than 3 miles from the scene of a shooting on Fairland Street in Roxbury Saturday evening that left a man with non-life-threatening injuries, according to Officer James Kenneally, a department spokesman.

Boston has had 12 homicides this year, Kenneally said, compared to 16 homicides by the same point in 2018.

On Sunday morning, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said that although incidents of violence have dropped, people still grapple with the loss of loved ones.

“If you look at the numbers, statistically, crime has gone down, violence has gone down,” Walsh told the crowd before the march began. “But if you talk to a survivor . . . that’s not good enough, because their loved one is no longer with them.”

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Walsh said: “Our work is nowhere near being done.”

Many of the participants held photographs or banners with the images of family and friends whose lives were claimed by violence, as they walked the 7 miles to City Hall, chanting and demanding an end to bloodshed.

“What do you want? Peace!” marchers yelled. “When do we want it? Now!”

Among the walkers were the Rev. Ronald Odom and his wife, the Rev. Kim Odom, whose 13-year-old son, Steven, was killed by a stray bullet in 2007.

The teen was the youngest of five, he said.

“When his life was taken from us, it just devastated me. We’ll never forget the love and the joy he brought to our family,” Ronald Odom said.

When he attended his first peace walk in 2008, Ronald Odom said, the number of people overwhelmed him. He couldn’t believe so many had been affected by violence.

Eleven years later, Odom found comfort in the support from the crowds gathered for the march.

“It let me know that there are more people on board to stop the violence today,” he said.

The walk culminated in a rally at City Hall Plaza, where Natasha Carrington told the crowd about the 2008 death of her son, Darrion Carrington, who was 18 when he was fatally shot while waiting for a takeout order inside a Chinese restaurant on Dorchester Avenue.

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Carrington said she didn’t begin addressing her grief over her son’s death until last year’s peace walk, after which she began regularly going to the institute. She now holds healing services at her local church.

“I was a mother, grieving and private,” she said. “I am no longer private. My son Darrion’s legacy will live on in and through me. I am a survivor.”

Carol Price, whose 32-year-old son, Kendric Price, was killed in a shooting near the family’s Greenwood Street home in March, struggled with the loss.

She would have preferred to be with her family on Mother’s Day, she said, laughing and eating with her mother while Kendric said the prayers, a tradition he carried out every year.

This year, the family had to find someone else to say those prayers.

“Everybody keeps saying, ‘Happy Mother’s Day.’ It’s not a happy Mother’s Day,” Price said. “I just feel like he’s still here. He’s still very much alive.”


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com. Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com.