Durham, N.C. — Friends, relatives and strangers gathered Friday night to remember people whose lives were lost to violence and to call for change.
Nearly 100 people showed up for a vigil and a march against crime sponsored by the Durham Police Department. Most of the marchers had the same message: End violence, especially gang violence, in Durham now.
"My sister-in-law, Janet Abaroa, was murdered two years ago here in Durham. We just felt it was important to support this walk against crime," Connie Christiansen said. "It helped to be able to feel like you're supporting others and try not to focus too much on what you're going through."
Abaroa, a 25-year-old mother, was stabbed to death in her Durham home two years ago Thursday. The case remains unsolved.
Twelve-year-old Jamal Lowery's mother was murdered in January 1996, and he still can't describe what life is like without her.
"I don't know. Many of you may be thinking, 'How don't you?' Well, I just don't," Jamal told those in attendance.
Many students from North Carolina Central University took part to show support for fallen classmates near and far.
"I just came out to show my love and support for Virginia Tech victims," student Jevon Rogers said.
"It's always a good time to show support for people that have been victims of violence, and violence that happened on our campus, Ms. Denita Smith, as well," student Tafari Higgins said.
Smith, an N.C. Central graduate student from Charlotte, was fatally shot outside her apartment in January. A Greensboro woman who police say was obsessed with Smith's fiance has been charged with murder in the case.
"When you see the suffering like we've seen this evening, you can't go back tomorrow to business as usual. We're going to have to really come together as a community ... to bring about change," Durham Police Chief Steve Chalmers said.
The police department also will host a Saturday banquet for crime victims.