Louisville community members gather to remember the lives lost to gun violence
In 2022, 160 people in Louisville died from gun violence. Their lives, and those who died in previous years, were honored at the Night of Remembrance on Friday.
The fifth annual event, sponsored by the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods and Moms Demand Action, brings together leaders across multiple faiths to offer prayers for those who have passed. The names of all 160 people who died were read while candles representing each person were placed on a display.
“Whether you all here tonight or around our city have lost a parent, a child, a sibling, another member of your family, a friend or a neighbor, all of us are part of a club no one wants to join,” said Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg, who survived a shooting last February.
He said the survivors of gun violence and the people left behind by those who died share a bond of memories of the ones they’ve lost and the trauma associated with it.
Speaking on his own experience with gun violence, Greenberg talked about the impacts it can have on the community and called for “solidarity to channel our pain into resolve to reduce the amount of gun violence here in Louisville, throughout Kentucky and around our country.”
“I learned that with every single shooting, with every single life lost, in every one of these tragedies, there’s not just one victim. There are hundreds of thousands of people impacted by gun violence,” Greenberg said.
Kenneth Forbes, the founder of Mothers of Murdered Son and Daughters of Kentucky, echoed Greenberg's sentiments about the community impact.
“At each funeral, there may be 200 to 300 that attend a funeral,” Forbes said. “Since my son was murdered in 2012, that’s over about 1,500 homicides we done had in the city. Now multiply that by 200 to 300 [people affected].”
Part of the work Forbes does with the group is creating a network to help support others who share his experience of losing a loved one to gun violence.
“Let’s try to help those families that are dealing with the depression and anxiety, to have them feel like they can just cope and just deal with the loss, but still have some type of life to go farther,” Forbes said.
In addition to remembering those whose lives were lost in shootings, people who died from suicide were recognized during the vigil with a moment of silence.
Shelita Petty, whose son died by suicide in September 2021, spoke after the moment of silence.
“A lot of our suicide victims, they live by the stigma, ‘One day you’re going to be a man, you can’t cry.’ But no, you can cry. You’re human,” Petty said.
She said her son was hiding his pain behind his smile. She said she wants people to know that it's OK to not be OK.
“I just need for our young to know they are enough, they are important and they are of value to us,” Petty said.