Pressley wants to scale up efforts to aid survivors of murder victims

Clementina Chéry

In a ceremony commemorating the start of Massachusetts’s annual Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month on Nov. 21, US Rep. Ayanna Pressley announced that she had introduced a Congressional resolution to bring the awareness effort to the national level.

“It’s long past time that as survivors, your healing is centered, and your needs are met. From grief counseling, to bereavement leave, to financial assistance, Congressional intent is a powerful thing,” Pressley said.

The resolution would designate Nov. 20 through Dec. 20 as an awareness month for the victims of homicide and their families nationwide, as Massachusetts has observed since 2000 when Gov. Paul Cellucci signed a law to create the awareness month in the state.

“This resolution expresses that Congress sees you, we hear you, and we’re committed to making the investments necessary to ensure that you receive the healing that you deserve,” the congresswoman said.

Pressley, who represents large sections of Boston, said recent gun violence in the city “deepens our resolve to raise awareness and to invest in trauma care.”

Seven people were shot and killed in Boston in October, and as of Oct. 23, Boston had so far seen more deadly gun violence than it did during the same period in 2021 — 26 fatal shooting victims, compared to 22 last year. A violent night in Boston earlier this month left one dead, and five others injured after three separate shootings happened around the city in the span of an hour.

Chaplain Clementina Chéry, co-founder and CEO of Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, which organizes the annual awareness month in Massachusetts, asked those attending the virtual ceremony to ask their Congressional representatives to support Pressley’s resolution, HR 1317, to create the national awareness month.

“Our goal for next year is that we will be in DC” observing the awareness month, she said.

State Rep. Liz Miranda of Roxbury, who lost her brother to gun violence, made it clear to ceremony attendees that she will be an advocate for the survivors of gun violence in her new role.

“Consider me not only a partner ... but a family member and a friend who will always be there to uplift this community, to share this community and to ensure that we’re doing the right things ... to support this community,” she said.

Sen. Nick Collins of South Boston, whose district includes Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, and South Boston, spoke at the ceremony about his own experience losing a cousin to “senseless” violence.

He thanked the Louis D. Brown Institute for Peace for its advocacy to bring awareness “not just to the pain that’s been suffered, but also of the important work that’s being done and continues to be done.”

“We want Massachusetts to be a leader in transforming the way society responds to families of murdered victims, whether they were gang involved, whether they were known to the police, whether they were shot by the police, or whether they were the good children that got caught in the crossfire,” Chéry said.

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