ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — A memorial designed to remember victims of gun violence in Allegheny County was vandalized on Mother’s Day.
“These were real people who were with us a year ago, 18 months ago and now they’re gone,” said Bible Center Church Executive Pastor Cynthia Wallace.
And now, the display in remembrance of more than 140 murder victims is gone, too.
“I literally cried when I saw the picture,” said Marilyn Mulvihill, coordinator of Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence Western PA. “I literally cried.”
It’s called the Memorial to the Lost. Names and ages were written on T-shirts along with the date they were killed. On Mother’s Day, the display was torn down to the ground.
“We know that it was a powerful message, and I think clearly the individuals that did it missed that message really what this was standing for,” said Wallace. “My fear is that if we don’t help engage these youth, then unfortunately when this memorial is done at another church five years from now that some of those children’s names will be on a T-shirt. We have to have to do something to intervene on behalf of our youth.”
“On the opening day of the memorial, we had a mother who was here,” said Mulvihill. “Her son, Joshua Hamilton, was killed by gun violence, and she spoke very movingly of what this memorial meant to her and how important it was. I have a picture of her after she spoke holding the T-shirt and just stroking it. So to find out what happened on Mother’s Day was heartbreaking.”
The mother that Mulvihill is referring to is Hazel Hamilton. Her 19-year-old son was murdered in Allentown in 2022.
“I was screaming,” said Hamilton. “It was a nightmare. It was bad. I couldn’t find my way back home. Everything in me just left. It was like a part of me died.”
As simple as it might seem, Hamilton says seeing her son’s name on a T-shirt, blowing in the wind, helps her to heal.
“It was the most beautiful thing to see his name on a T-shirt, and that people know my son,” said Hamilton. “He’s not forgotten. It was like a piece of him was still here. He’s going to be remembered. His name will be heard and all the other people’s T-shirts that were there will be there again. They can tear it down but we’re going to keep rebuilding it.”
Organizers hope to put the Memorial to the Lost back together and display it at Shiloh Community Baptist Church along Frankstown Avenue on May 20.
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