The latest gun violence in Toronto hit home for mothers of UMOVE. The anti-violence group was meeting Sunday at Nathan Phillip Square pleading to put an end to the senseless cycle of violence in the GTA.
Toronto, Ontario – “Every time a murder happens it just hit you right back, it has been seven years since Justin (was killed), but it seems like seven minutes,” said Audette Sheppard, who lost her son Justin in a drive by shooting in 2001.
Sheppard and her fellow mothers who all say their children were murder by senseless acts of violence, met at the time when there was another deadly weekend on the streets of Toronto.
Bailey Zaveda, 24, is city’s latest murder victim of a senseless shooting early Saturday morning. Police say she had just stepped out for a smoke outside the Duke of York pub at Queen and Leslie Streets - When a gunman opened fire into a crowd. Multiple rounds hit her in the torso. Zaveda died at the scene, becoming 60th murder victim of 2008.
Sheppard, who founded United Mothers Opposed of Violence Everywhere (UMOVE) together with other mothers directly affected by violence were meeting at Nathan Phillip Square on Sunday afternoon. They were there for a ‘Moment of Noise’ instead of moment of silence, which is usually observed in somber ceremonies.
“We are tired of moment of silence, now we’ll make noise,” Sheppard said. “Until everyone hears our plight,” We will have our noisemakers make some noise later in the program she added.
UMOVE mothers then shared their personal heartache.
"I'd like to let everyone know, their families know we are with them at this time because we have walked this road before," said Marilyn Ortega. Her son Ruddin, was killed as the result of violence 11-years ago.
Sita Kumar who also lost her son 3-years ago from multiple stabbing is desperate to find out what led to her son’s stabbing. This was the first time she has attended the UMOVE event.
“They (Police) say it was because of a bandana, but my son never wore bandana,” Kumar said. She also made an emotional plea to the audience for anyone who knows anything regarding her son’s murder to come forward.
UMOVE is setting up a youth symposium Monday that will take place at City Hall. It aims to teach kids to empower themselves and take responsibility for their actions.