GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A series of posters lining Eastern Avenue in Grand Rapids Wednesday captured drivers' attention. They were the faces of murder victims, and their mothers sat nearby.
"I'm sweating. I got on work clothes. I'm hot," said Barbra Walker. "But you know what? It's worth it. It's worth sitting out here in this heat just to make a statement."
Walker's daughter, Nanette Smith, was murdered in a home on Benson Street in 1994. Nearly two decades later, her mother is still hoping what happened to Smith sends a message to others.
"She's dead because of name-calling," Walker said. "He felt belittled. So, as a man, he felt like he needed to take my child's life."
"It's just hard to describe the feelings of that day," she added.
Smith's photo was among more than a dozen that lined Eastern Avenue near Oakdale Street SE Wednesday afternoon. The mothers were part of Mothers on a Mission (MOM) -- a group comprised of mothers who have lost children to violence.
"You've got all these other mothers out here, all these pictures out here that have the same sad story," Walker told 24 Hour News 8.
As the mothers sat in temperatures that soared into the 90s, passersby honked their horns in support. Walker said that lets her know that their efforts are not in vain.
"Maybe they might go home and tell their kids, 'Hey, guess what I saw today," she said. "From us sitting out here today, you never know what may happen to save somebody else's life."
Some who came to support the mothers Wednesday talked about growth of a group. The first picture in the line was of Greg Woods Jr. He was gunned down in January after answering the door of a Neland Avenue SE residence.
"When I hear about other young people that's been killed due to violence, that pain just resurfaces," said Walker. "The pain never goes away because we continue to have violence."
Mothers on a Mission gathers at various locations at random in hopes of touching as many lives as possible. They hope they can at least slow the group of mothers linked by common tragedy.
"We can go to the cemetery. We can talk to them. They don't talk back," Walker said. "Your mother could be here one day. Violence is not the way."
"The group aims to raise awareness of the consequences violent actions can bring and prevent other parents from enduring the same pain they have experienced."
Contact Jerline Riley
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