• 23rd annual Mother's Day Peace Walk supporting families of murder victims

    By: Crystal Haynes

    Updated:

    BOSTON - They've been supporting the survivors of homicide for more than a quarter century; the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute is celebrating its 23rd annual Mother's Day Peace Walk in Dorchester on Mother's Day weekend.

    The event is the only fundraising event of the year for the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, and they are expecting large crowds to come out and support the survivors of homicide and their families.

    The walk comes at a time where the city of Boston has pledged to decrease the number of unsolved homicides, now over 1,000, and support families affected by murder.

    "In 2006 my brother Eric was murdered," said Janice Johnson.

    For Johnson the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute was not only a resource for her family after her brother's murder, it was a path through their grief. 

    "The walk instantly turned my pain into power," Johnson said. "It's like I had a purpose."

    The Mother's Day Peace Walk was started in 1996 so mothers of murdered children could receive support and love from their neighbors.

    Twenty-three years later the walk has become a living memorial to those lost to homicide and a platform to advocate for survivors’ resources.

    Related: 'He was just broken': A widow's plea for mental health support

    "We know that even with one homicide, there are at least 10 people affected by that," Danielle Bennett said. "So that number won’t ever really change."

    Bennett's cousin, Sharice, was murdered in 2012. 

    The rate of homicides in Boston has held steady at around 50 per year for the last five years. The 2019 homicide toll to date is 11. 

    "When homicide happens there’s an automatic stigma and there's automatically questions asked that really play into blaming the victim or blaming the community that the victim was from," said Rachel Rodriguez. 

    "So that's still a narrative that we want to shift and really focus on what do people need in the aftermath of this?"

    Newly elected Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins says there are more than 1,000 unsolved homicide cases her office is working to close. 

    "All of us are dealing with murder, trauma, loss and grief, and deserve to have a response that holds all of our experiences, and values everybody," the DA said.

    >>>MORE: Family of man killed in crash says they just want driver off the road

    The walk is the peace institute's largest fundraiser and accounts for a third of its budget.

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