FEDUP hosts prayer to honor Roanoke lives lost to gun violence

Roanoke families wipe their tears Saturday morning as a grassroots organization honors the legacy of gun violence victims.

ROANOKE, Va. – Forever loved. But never forgotten.

Twenty chairs were set out at Countryside Park to honor each life taken by gun violence in the past year.

The Fed Up organization had to add two more chairs this year compared to last summer.

“It’s really sad,” FEDUP President and Co-Founder Rita Joyce said. “It’s an empty. It’s a void. No one will ever know until they experience it what that void does to a family. Especially of an unexpected loss of a family member due to a crime.”

Photos on the chairs, placed by loved ones, showed the final image to remember the victims by.

Images like eight-year-old Camden Brown who was killed last year in August.

Or 32-year-old Samuel Dickerson who was shot to death just two months ago.

One chair stands with a blank sheet to honor the recent victim who is unnamed.

Joyce created the grassroots group to help families cope with the pain that she knows all too well.

She lost her son in 2004 and is devastated to see gun violence still on the rise.

“Walk away,” she advises. “Let’s resolve this in another way. Because once you release the trigger on a gun, there is no turning back.”

Tracy Penn wishes she could turn the clock back to save her father and brother.

Lives lost years ago, but the wounds still ache.

“Our family is going through an emotional [time], especially me,” Penn said.

Penn’s nephew, Jamie Penn Jr., was only one years old when his father died due to gun violence. Now, Jamie is a teenager who just marked the milestone of turning his tassle to the other side.

“Jamie just graduated high school this year and is on his way off to college,” Tracy said. “His dad should be here. He should be apart of all of this.”

As ministers send up prayers, families know their loved ones’ spirits will follow too.

About the Author:

Alexus joined 10 News in October 2020.