STOCKTON -- Stockton families gathered in grief on Thursday at the Stockton Civic Auditorium. Despite their pain, they came together to heal.
“(I feel) horrible, because I miss him,” Evelyn Townsend, whose son was murdered told us.
Adrianna Thompson’s brother was gunned down in Stockton five years ago. She’s also a survivor, herself.
“At times, I get mad. At times, I get upset but, you know what I’m saying, but at the same time I know he’s with God, so I’m OK,” Thompson said.
Thompson said a man shot her in the face in February of this year. She’s lucky to be alive and has now dedicated her life to finding justice for her brother’s murder.
“It helps me to be able to put him out there and we will remember hi and keep him recognized and keep him going you know what I mean. Keep his memory alive. That’s how it helps me,” she said.
Townsend lost her son Rodney in 1997. Even though 20 years have passed, she said her heart is still heavy with pain.
The Survivors Speak events allow people like Townsend and Thompson a place to find peace.
“We’ve talked about reconciliation, we’ve talked about rehabilitation and building trust but we haven’t talked about healing yet,” Tashante McCoy-Ham with the Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice said.
Panelists shared their own stories of loss, community organizers were also on hand to help, “It shouldn’t be a stigma to seek help when you need it,” Missy Rae, a Program Assistant with Fathers and Families of San Joaquin told us.
While the pain of losing a son, a brother, someone close to you will never go away; organizers hope events like Survivors Speak will help ease the burden.
“We want programs and systems that are for the people and healing has to be a big part of that or we’re not going to get anywhere,” McCoy-Ham said.