Victims Remembered in ‘Day of Peace’ Ceremony
As each name was called, a small 'click' followed.
Over and over one could hear the clicks, the sounds of candles lighting, more than 160 of them, as the names of more and more homicide victims echoed under the portico of the City-County Building on Grant Street.
The somber remembrance of those lost to violence since January 2010 marked the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Peace in Pittsburgh.
Dozens of community activists gathered not only to remember those who've died, but to call for a united effort to cut down on violent crimes in the city.
"If we can have one single day of non-violence, why not two days, or a month, or forever?" asked George D'Angelo, founder of the International Day of Peace Vigil. "Certainly a single day of peace is attainable if we work at it together." D'Angelo said that last year the Taliban and coalition forces agreed to a one-day cease-fire in Afghanistan on Peace Day, resulting in a 70% reduction in violence and allowing time for more than one million polio vaccinations.
Allegheny County residents who have lost family members to violence also spoke about their losses today. "My father has never bought me a birthday present, never taken me to the movies, never had lunch with me, never watched a football game with me, never been around to dream with me about becoming the world champ," said Amante Everhart, a twenty-year-old amateur boxer. "The reason [is] when I was four years old, he shot a woman on a get-rich-quick scheme. That cost him fifteen years of his life, and mine."
A representative from the mayor's office said violent crimes in Pittsburgh are down 9% so far this year, a statistic he attributed to the collaborative work of several organizations, such as the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime.
In addition to the candle-lighting ceremony, a 24-hour vigil is being held at St. Benedict the Moor Church.