MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -As part of National Victims’ Rights Week – loved ones left behind due to violent crime – together. The Mobile County District Attorney’s Office hosted its annual victim watch.
Many of these families are still grieving and in some cases still seeking justice. The Vigil was all about them, their loved ones and the fight against violent crime.
13-year-old Makenzie Hall was just 8 years old when her father Harry Williams Matthews III was killed.
“This is the fourth year I’m coming to this event. I feel it helps to show people my story … I like to encourage them, it’s going to be okay … Just keep pushing,” he said. Hall.
The Mobile County District Attorney welcomed the families to Cooper Riverside Park – and said she recognized old and new faces at this year’s vigil.
“We make sure we do everything we can to do justice in these cases,” DA Rich said. “I can not prosecute all of these cases, but I want to tell you that the members of the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office – each and every one of them – are here for you.”
Although families may be strangers, they share their grief and trauma of losing a loved one. Many were victims of gun violence.
“Some of these children I know – from the pictures here. Jasmine Pettway, I know. This loss of gun violence hurts – it’s a struggle – every day with everyone moving on with their lives. We’re still stuck with a vacuum , ”Said Courtney Smith Robinson, honoring her brother Rick Smith.
18-year-old Gaige Taylor was killed five years ago. This is the first time his family is participating in the guard.
“Gaige was loved by so many people. So we’ve had a lot of support. A lot of people loved him,” said Tiffany Head, Gaige’s mother. “And I just want to emphasize that violence does not stop violence. it just. ”
When the port city almost set a homicide record last year – says Lawrence Battiste, director of mobile public security, that they can not fight the deadly violence alone.
“Simply not reporting it – basically telling these people who are out there and terrorizing certain neighborhoods and communities that it’s okay – because no one wants to say anything. So – I think instead of saying I’m afraid to report it … I think you should be afraid not to report, ”Battiste said.
One by one, family members read the names of their loved ones aloud. A butterfly release that also means they will never forget the lives that were tragically shortened.
Tiffany Head, Gaige Taylor’s mother, wanted to share the following message with the other families:
I want to start by expressing my condolences to everyone here and to those who could not be with us but who have suffered due to acts of violence in our society. I’m really sorry. I may not know the exact circumstances of every single family that is here today, but I understand your struggle, pain, and loss. I know what it feels like to have his whole world turned upside down. I know the heartache, the depression and even the anger that flows into your life like a mighty river and consumes everything in its path. In 2017, I lost my son due to senseless violence. Gaige had just turned 18, he had his whole life ahead of him and he did not deserve to die. No one deserves such a fate, and my heart aches daily for him and the potential life he had stolen from him at such a young age.
In this moment we are gathered to remember our loved ones, but today it is not just about memory. It is also about giving a voice calling for justice a voice to those who can no longer speak for themselves. We all share a common thread, and a burden has been placed on me for all who have suffered under the hands of violence. I wanted to gather statistics that demonstrated the seriousness of the circumstances in which Mobile has found itself. Still, I did not have time to prepare this speech today, but I do not need statistics to pass on the crisis that our city is in, to you. As you have unfortunately all experienced on your own the injustice of hatred and violence in your life. And for those who do not have, open your eyes and ears, our sons and daughters become victims of murder every day. It is no longer safe to walk the streets, go to sporting events or even sit in your own car at red lights. Our crime rate is steadily rising, our justice and prison systems are in shambles and until they are sorted out, and violent perpetrators are taken off the streets and held accountable for their actions to a degree that reflects the seriousness of the crimes they commit, criminality. will continue to rise.
I’m not here to point fingers, I’m here to plead with our citizens to get started. No one should ever suffer such inequalities as we have suffered, and I pray that the violence in our city will stop, but unless our citizens step out of their complacency, change will not happen. A democracy built for the people, by the people, will not stand unless it is held accountable by the people. As a citizen, we have a responsibility to get involved. It is imperative that we take an active part in our government by educating ourselves on the political position of our candidates and then participating in elections by voting. As voters, we must demand that our elected representatives represent our interests and needs. We must demand that funds be made available to build new prison systems and work together to create legislation that reforms a broken system. No violent offender should be released before serving at least 80% of his sentence. The purpose of our district attorneys is not to hand out boyfriends who return hardened institutionalized murders to the streets to commit more crimes or even to obtain guilty verdicts that are aesthetically pleasing on paper. Our district attorney’s job is to achieve justice, to uphold the law, to ensure that the guilty are held accountable and that the innocent are not convicted of crimes they have not committed. Our DA must be willing to work to achieve such justice, and we must hold them accountable.
Before I leave you, I have one last prayer for our citizens and victims. I pray that you do not take the law into your own hands in the pursuit of justice through further acts of violence. Violence does not eliminate violence, it only aggravates the current situation. My son Gaige had to learn this lesson at the expense of his life. I know and feel your frustration, but there is a better way to achieve justice. I do not want any mother to lose a child. We must join together. Together, our voices cannot be silenced, we must seek to build a safe and just community for all our sons and daughters. I do not want to cause further chaos and destruction, but to exemplify to the world the impact of love that Gaige gave in my life, and by doing so we will leave a legacy in the name of our loved one that will build a better future .
Let us now please have a moment of silence in memory of our beloved followed by a prayer.
God, I humble myself before you and come to you today with praise in my heart for you, and only you are worthy. We gather to remember our loved ones who have fallen, our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our nieces and nephews, our cousins and our dear friends. Our lives have been changed forever because of meaningless acts of violence and hatred; our hearts mourn. Knowing that you are the great comforter Lord, I pray that you will comfort those who are full of sorrow, that you will give rest to the restless and healing to the broken. I pray that you will protect us from those who have evil intentions and are lurking in our city to claim the next sacrifice, I pray that what has been done in the dark will be brought forth in the light, Lord, we seek for justice prevails not only for our loved ones but for all citizens.
I ask you to build leaders in the community who will stand together and fight for the security of our community. I ask you to give our elected officials wisdom, strength and guidance so that justice will be done according to your will. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In the name of Jesus God bless us all Amen.
Download the FOX10 Weather app. Get life-saving severe weather alerts and location alerts wherever you are. Available for free in Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Copyright 2022 WALA. All rights reserved.