Group holds vigil for children killed by gun violence, pushes for change

Parents touched by gun violence gather to remember lives lost

MIAMI – Parents who have lost their children to gun violence are pushing for people to stop shooting.

One by one, their names were read aloud and their pictures shown on monitors inside a packed church Wednesday night in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood.

“We are mothers forever and our souls are permanently changed,” Tangela Sears told the crowd.

The families in attendance were united by gun violence, like the family of Da’Michael Dukes. The 17-year-old was killed by a stray bullet in 2014.

“When I get the phone calls to interview other families or get a phone call, ‘Hey, my son just got shot, can I help,’ it just tears me apart, because I know what that mom is going to go through,” Romania Dukes said. “It’s no expiration date on our pain.”

Charmaine Roundtree’s son, Michael Mathis, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Miami Gardens on Father’s Day weekend in 2018 and buried on what would have been his 22nd birthday.

“Somebody chooses to their take life to a bullet. What are we to do?” Roundtree said. “I still haven’t found the answer and it’s day 564 for me.”

As emotions got the best of some parents, young, poetic voices tried to fill the void.

“You blame the man, but you’re doing his job, and what a messy one it is -- killing innocent people,” a boy recited.

Candles were lit to symbolize each life lost but not forgotten. The pain is pushing some mothers into a purpose to fight for justice in the shootings, many of which remain unsolved.

“I lost everything except my mind,” Roundtree said.

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