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Families light candles for loved ones lost to gun violence at Douglass Park

Posted at 11:01 PM, Jun 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 23:17:46-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A candlelight vigil held at Douglass Park in honor of gun violence victims brought together families on Gun Violence Awareness Day.

The event was organized by Project Body Bag, an organization working to end gun violence in Lexington.

“We have to find a way to get in the streets and get these kids to understand that both families lose when it comes to gun violence,” said Project Body Bag CEO Damion Riley. “As a community, we can lock arms together and get Lexington where it needs to be.”

Riley said he organized the candlelight vigil to allow families to come together, honor the people they’ve lost and find strength in each other.

“We suffered a major loss and we continue to live it because every time someone loses that child, even though it’s not our child, we take it personally,” said Marita Cole, whose son, Joshua, was killed by a stray bullet in 2017. “This is about our children. They’re dying at a rapid rate. So, we no longer wait and save money up for college. We’re saving money up to bury these children.”

Multiple families participated in the vigil. Many of them held pictures of those they lost to gun violence while they shared about them.

“The main thing I want people to know is that you have support. You’re not alone. We are here. The survivors are here,” Cole said. “We’re not all in the same place, but we’re all on the same journey.”

There have been at least 50 shootings in Lexington since the start of 2021, according to the Lexington Police Department.

At least 17 people have been killed this year, and every one of those homicides involved a gun, according to police data.