FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Families and friends gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. bridge Sunday to honor their loved ones whose lives were lost to homicide.
Families lined up on the lawn in front of the Martin Luther King, Junior Bridge to ring a bell and say the name of their loved one lost to homicide. Alive Community Outreach hosted a small service in honor of the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.
“Just hearing the names of each victim, sometimes we get caught up in numbers and statistics when we talk about homicide in the community,” said Angelo Mante, Exec. Director of Alive Community Outreach .”But behind every number, there’s a name, and there’s a story.”
Mante hoped of offering some comfort to the families by recognizing their loss. For the family of Myquel Middlebrook, who was murdered in January after an argument over a Facebook post, it was their first Day of Remembrance since losing Myquel. They remembered him with smiles on their faces as intelligent, funny, energetic, and soft-spoken. Although a man was sentenced for his death, the family is still grieving their loss.
“It hurts to see other people going through it, but I mean, I think it gave me a different type of understanding,” said Tremasia Middlebrook, Myquel’s sister.
“We want people to, to know, the love we feel for him and, and how special he was to us, that helps us It does help us,” added Pamela Middlebrook, Myquel’s grandmother. “I think this helps because it’s not like we always come up with ways to remember him or how to have, you know, a memorial for him. So to be able to do with other people, too. That’s really nice.”
It was especially comforting to the family because what would have been Myquel’s 23 birthday is coming up in just over a month, on November 11.
“When you’re going through and when you first encounter a situation like this, you feel like it’s just you,” said Selena Phillips, Myquel’s aunt. “Being here and hearing other people’s stories and seeing how many families are here and trying to keep their loved ones’ name alive, their memory alive, it lets us know that we were never wrong. It’s not just us. There are others and they have gone through it. They are coping a lot better than and we will to eventually but it just takes time. It takes a lot of time and of course, it never gets any better. The hurt still exists, but it’s easier to cope with it over time and hopefully, that’ll be the same situation for us.”
Mante said it was nice to see such a large crowd for their first memorial, but that he was struck by knowing it’s only a small percentage of the families affecting by violence. He believes it is up to the community to find a solution.
“I talk a lot about violence as being a symptom of root issues in our community,” Mante said. “These root issues, we’re all called to address and define, you know, where we fit in, and what we’re called to address those deeper issues that give rise to the conditions that lead to things like violence in the community.”
September 25 was officially designated as The National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims in 2007.