For the National Day of Remembrance for Homicide Victims, EMIR Healing Center held a remembrance for homicide, suicide, and COVID-19 victims at Vernon Park this past Saturday. EMIR, Every Murder is Real, partnered with local officials and community partners to bring neighbors a day of fun and togetherness while offering information around the park.
In front of the Black Writers Museum, there was a tall black main stage with a slideshow of the faces of fallen victims submitted by their loved ones. Just the right amount of sun filtered through the evergreen trees to highlight the performers and speakers, including singers, dancers, doctors, preachers, imams, and poets/rappers who all gave testimonies and performances centered around love, community, racial injustice, and loss.
At the entrance, there was a registration table with volunteers collecting neighbor information and the names of loved ones who died due to homicide, suicide, or COVID-19. Speakers read off the names at the end of the event to honor them. Registrants received tickets to get a free meal, drink, and pretzel. Around the park was an array of tables set up by local elected officials like Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker and State Attorney General Josh Shapiro. These tables allowed neighbors to meet officials and obtain information about possible resources. Residents were also able to receive COVID-19 vaccination shots at the event.
EMIR’s director, Chantay Love, MC’d the event and received an honorary certificate for her service to the community. She said it’s essential that neighbors “come together and celebrate together” as a reminder that they are not alone in loss. Love stated that the event isn’t just about remembrance but also about the reunion as neighbors can gather again after a yearlong COVID-19 restriction.
Love fiercely hollered chants of “we will not do this here! This here can be stopped,” as a call to end casualties of homicide, suicide, and COVID-19. The crowd echoed.