Toronto’s latest weekend of gun violence has hit home for Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere. The anti-violence group gathered Sunday at Nathan Phillips Square to plead for an end to the cycle of shootings that have rocked the city, yet again.
“Every time a murder happens it just hits you right back. It has been seven years since Justin ( he son was killed), but it seems like seven minutes,” said Audette Sheppard, who lost Justin in a drive-by shooting in 2001.
Bailey Zaveda, 24, became the latest victim of a stray bullet early Saturday morning. Police report she was outside the Duke of York pub at Queen E. and Leslie streets when a gunman opened fire into a crowd. Multiple rounds hit her in the torso, killing her instantly. Zaveda is the 60th murder victim of 2008 in GTA.
Sheppard, who founded UMOVE together with other mothers directly affected by violence, were meeting at Nathan Phillip Square Sunday afternoon. They were there for a ‘moment of noise’ instead of the traditional moment of silence
“We are tired of moments of silence; now we’ll make noise,” Sheppard said.
Sita Kumar, who also lost her son three years ago, is desperate to find out what led to her son’s stabbing.
“They (police) say it was because of a bandanna, but my son never wore bandanna,” Kumar said. She also made an emotional plea to the audience for anyone who knows anything regarding her son’s murder to come forward.
Marilyn Ortega wants anyone touched by violence to know UMOVE understands their sorrow. She also spoke on the latest incident in Leslieville.
“I’d like to let everyone know … we are with them at this time because we have walked this road before,” she said. Her son Ruddin died violently 11 years ago.
UMOVE also sponsored a youth symposium Oct. 27 at City Hall with aimed at teaching kids to empower themselves and take responsibility for their actions.