YORK, Pa. - Dozens of mothers who have lost loved ones as a result of youth violence are hoping to send a message to young people and city leaders: the violence needs to stop now.
They took part in a photo project Monday with the goal of producing billboards that will go up in the city to show that violence affects more than just those who are victimized. The mothers also urge local leaders to do more to prevent youth violence.
Among the mothers was Patricia Green, who lost her son, Eugene Hillian, to a shooting last October.
"We feel that they don't hear us," she said. "We feel like the cops don't hear us, the DA don't hear us, no, people don't hear us. So it was just kind of like giving a little voice to say 'Hey, we're here.'"
Photographer Lawrence Tyler heard about the project and instantly wanted to take part.
"People can say what they want about York, but when it's time for the people around here to do something, they come together," he said.
Organizers say they want the mothers to feel supported, to reduce youth on youth violence and to build community support to have real conversations about violence plaguing the community.
"I would say that once a week there's some type of violence going on in our community; it's probably not just true to York, it's probably true to any urban area, but we really need to start addressing this and being responsive to it," Anne Clark, one of the organizers, said.
The mothers said this and the ability to discuss what they're going through was able to help them with their grieving process.
"They don't just say, 'Oh, I understand,' they really understand, so when I speak, they understand," Green said. "I don't talk much, but when we get together, when I do get a chance to talk, it's very helpful."
"For a lot of them, it's a way to vent a little bit, allow them to be able to say that they're still grieving, they're missing whoever it was that they lost, and they want some answers," Tyler said.