Memorial to the Lost

Memorial to the Lost
at Chester Eastside Ministries

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pictures from Delco United's march today for background checks

Bryan Miller, of Heeding God's Call

Shira Goodman, of Cease Fire PA

Movita Johnson

Pastor Anita Littleton

Chester Children's Chorus
It was 7 miles from Calvary Baptist Church, at 2nd and Flower, in Chester, to Providence Friends' Meeting, in Media, with stops at Chester Eastside Ministries (to see Heeding God's Call's Memorial to the Lost) and Holy Trinity Lutheran (for lunch).  The marchers ranged from infants in strollers to 70+.  Footsore and tired as we were, by the end, Chester Children's Chorus had us on our feet, clapping and swaying, with tears in our eyes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pictures from today's vigil at Miller's Gun Store

Our next vigils are:

Tuesday, July 8th, 4 PM
Wednesday, July 23rd, 4 PM

Bit by bit, we can make change happen.

In yesterday's Chester Spirit: Memorial to Lives Lost to Gun Violence

by Desire Grover

In memory of gun homicide victims throughout Delaware County between 2009-2014, a temporary memorial was erected by the Chester/Delaware County Chapter of Heeding God’s Call (HGC) last Saturday. On the front lawn of Chester Eastside Ministries, along 9th St. in Chester, 145 t-shirts bearing the names of the county’s victims stood as a somber reminder of the toll that gun violence has taken across the county; Chester City being the most impacted.

“There were 29 (t-shirts) that I had to cry through, pause, get up and stop because they were all under the age of 19 years-old,” said Anita Littleton, pastor of Chester’s Refuge in Christ Church. She described having to write out the names of victims on each shirt and the overwhelming impact it had emotionally. “Chester City, it is past time for a change,” she said.
Family members, friends and supportive residents gathered Sunday evening, along the sidewalk, spilling into the street as they sang songs of hope and recited prayers together. Cars stopped and periodically a group of people would exit and join the crowd, embracing familiar persons.
“He died breaking up a fight,” said Sandra Brown. Her son, Emerson Price, III, died at 21 years-old trying to make peace in 2010. “When it was all over, the boy came back, shook my son’s hand and shot him down; like he was nothing.”
Brown said she is coping because of her family’s support. She has waited for years to finally have her son’s case reach court.
“I’ve been waiting for three years. Three whole years for somebody to hear my son,” said Brown, her eyes looking into the distance as she spoke. “It’s horrible because it’s not even adults buying guns; it’s kids buying guns. My son was killed at 21 years-old with two children left behind. I live this nightmare every night.”
to read more, click here

Monday, June 23, 2014

In today's Delco Times -- T-shirt memorial is stark reminder of the costs of gun violence

By LORETTA RODGERS, Times Correspondent, @LorettaRodgers1
Posted: |

CHESTER — One hundred forty four tee shirts bearing the names of city residents who lost their lives to gun violence since 2009 made for an emotional and overwhelming sight for those traveling down ninth street this past weekend.

Erected Saturday on the grounds of Chester Eastside Ministries at Ninth and Upland streets, the dedication of the “Memorial to Lives Lost to Gun Violence” took place Sunday and featured a host of speakers.

“This is not a happy occasion,” said Chester Eastside Ministries Pastor the Rev. Bernice Warren. “These T-shirts represent human lives. We are really glad that the community has come out for this somber occasion. Look at these T-shirts and you realize the tragedy of it all. They are our mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, grandchildren and friends. They are all our children. This madness has to stop.”

Sponsored by the Chester Delaware County Chapter of Heeding God’s Call, the event was co-organized by Pastor Anita Littleton of Chester’s Refuge in Christ Church and Fran Stier of the Ohev Shalom Synagogue in Wallingford.

“We are very pleased at the turnout today,” said Stier. “It is time people realize that there is a great need for gun control. Do you know that the city of Chester has more murders in one year than the entire country of Ireland? It is because the gun laws in the state of Pennsylvania are too lax. There are not enough controls in place to stop straw purchases.”

Standing with tears streaming down her face, Chester resident Delores Banks Strand, spoke of her three sons, who were all lost to gun violence on the streets of Chester. Her oldest son, Calvin Banks, was shot and killed at the age of 17 in 1993; her middle son, Duane Banks, was killed in 2006 at the age of 31; and her youngest son, Marckus Banks, was murdered in 2013 at the age of 32.

“I struggle every day,” Strand said. “I only had three children and they are all gone. I wake up every morning with them on my mind and there is nothing I can do. They are right here with me and I’m still standing.”

Heeding God’s Call member Yancy Harrell, who lost his son to gun violence, told those in attendance that they should ask themselves what they are going to do to get involved.

“This is your neighborhood, your people,” Yancy said. “The names on these shirts might be those of your son or daughter, or the only child of someone you know. These people will never have a graduation, wedding or children of their own. Think about that before it crosses your doorstep.”

to read more, click here.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dedication of the Memorial to Lives Lost to Gun Violence in Delaware County

Ever since yesterday, people have been stopping to look at the t-shirt memorial to lives lost to gun violence in Delaware County.  People stop to look for a nephew, a grandson, a son or daughter.  Children, parents, sisters and brothers pose behind the t-shirts commemorating their lost father / child / sibling.

Tarria, who's worked with the kids in the rec program at CAADC, was there to remember her nephew, along with her mother, sister, and brother.  Her nephew had been shot a week before his 21st birthday -- they buried him the day before he would have been 21.

Pastor Anita Littleton has accumulated 23 requests for t-shirts commemorating deaths that fell outside the 5-year window we covered in our original list.  Parents and siblings and aunts and uncles come up to her to talk, cry, and hug.  A father held a picture of his daughter, convinced that if people could just see how beautiful she had been, they'd realize something had to change.

I keep hearing in my head Pastor Anita's refrain:  "It's not God's will that parents should bury their children".   Something has to change.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Memorial to Lives Lost to Gun Violence

On Thursday, Pastor Anita got the City of Chester to mow the field beside Chester Eastside Ministries (a beautiful, old church, but no longer safe to occupy), where we were going to build a Memorial to Lives Lost to Gun Violence.  Sister Jean had worked with nuns at the Mother House to write names on 145 t-shirts, praying over each victim and family as they wrote.

Friday, Elaine Waskenas picked up pvc pipe, rebar, and fittings at Home Depot, and the three of us met to go over last minute details.  We all worried whether volunteers would show up to construct the memorial.

Sister Jean and Rev. Bernice arrived early on Saturday -- talking about the wedding last night of Sister Jean's nephew.

More and more people arrived --30-odd people in total, and most of the t-shirt stands were up within an hour.   However, we were slightly short on rebar and 1' and 3' PVC pipe.  Elaine and I scurried back to Home Depot for the missing pieces, only to find (on returning) that there were also missing connectors.

Passers-by stopped to talk.   A father found his son's t-shirt, and his son's friend.  The mother of a young man killed late in April (so after our list ended) asked could we add her son's name.  Her grandson had been run over on the day of her son's funeral.  Of course, we'd make more shirts.  Pastor Anita hugged her.  I hugged her.  What can you say?

Sister Jean and Rev. Bernice Warren; Pastor Anita and her daughters, Elaine Waskenas