For Immediate Release
Contact: Mallory Hanora (860-268-1369)
Sunday May 13, 2018
Amidst heaviness, Families Find Hope at the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute’s 22nd Annual Mother’s Day Walk for Peace
BOSTON, MA: Thousands of people walked from Town Field in Dorchester to Boston City Hall on Mother’s Day demanding dignity and compassion for all families impacted by murder. Survivors of homicide victims wore tee shirts and carried banners memorializing their family members with messages of love. While recent murders in the city have caused residents pain and anguish, the Walk for Peace was an opportunity to focus on the assets in communities and take steps toward healing.
“I’m walking with the hope that one day no mother, father, or family will have to suffer the loss of a child,” Elisha Ross said shared at the Opening Ceremony on Sunday. Her son Michael Ross was killed on March 30. “Today, I choose to allow love and forgiveness to rule the moment. It’s where I find my most inner peace and strength in the midst of my pain. I choose to take control rather than be controlled. The love I have for Michael, along with my memories of him, will live forever.”
New survivors and survivors whose loved ones were killed years or decades ago walked side by side with neighbors, allies, clergy, business owners, providers, and elected officials in an powerful expression of unity. Over 225 Walk teams registered and raised money to expand Peace Institute’s services, training, and advocacy work. The Peace Institute is the only organization in the Commonwealth that supports and guides families of murder victims from death notification through the funeral and burial process and offers ongoing healing programming. The organization also trains law enforcement officials and public health professionals to respond equitably and effectively when a homicide happens.
“As caregivers, we know firsthand how violence impacts the patients and families we serve," said Kevin Tabb, MD, CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Co-Chair of the Mother's Day Walk for Peace. "The Mother’s Day Walk for Peace is a marker of healing and a celebration of the potential to create safe communities, and we are proud to walk in lockstep with the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute -not just today but every day.”
Peace Institute staff, survivors, and supporters celebrated a major legislative victory at this year’s Walk. Governor Charlie Baker recently signed the Criminal Justice reform bill which included language to amend the state’s Victim Compensation statute to ensure that family members of murder victims who apply cannot be denied reimbursement for funeral and burial costs. Interventions like these mitigate trauma and interrupt cycles of retaliatory violence.
“The success of the Victim Compensation legislation is a testament to the hard work of the many survivors who were relentless in their advocacy. Packing hearing rooms, sharing testimony, and recruiting supporters, they assured that the legislation would become law in one session,” said lead sponsor of the legislation Representative Evandro Carvalho. “This is a tremendous feat which will assure that future survivors will have access to much needed resources. No longer will they be denied burial funding as they work through the overbearing trauma that accompanies the loss of a loved one to homicide.”
The Louis D. Brown Peace Institute is a center of healing, teaching, and learning for families and communities impacted by murder, grief, trauma, and loss. The vision of the Peace Institute is to create and sustain communities where all people are valued and all families can live in peace.
Chaplain Clementina Chery co-founded the Peace Institute in 1994 in honor of her oldest son Louis D. Brown. Louis was caring, compassionate, and an avid reader. He was committed to making his community a more peaceful and just place and believed all young people have the potential to be peacemakers. Louis had the long-term goal of becoming the first Black president of the United States. Louis was killed in the cross-fire of a shootout in 1993 when he was fifteen years old.
The Mother’s Day Walk for Peace is a celebration of our potential to create more peaceful communities. Every year families from across the state and region walk together toward peace. The Mother’s Day Walk is also the Peace Institute’s most important fundraising event. In 2018, our goal is to raise $400,000 to expand our services, training, and advocacy work.
The Mother's Day Walk for Peace started in 1996 so mothers of murdered children could receive support and love from their neighbors. Twenty-one years later, the Mother’s Day Walk continues to be a powerful way to honor our loved ones who have been murdered and embrace our partners in peacemaking.