Families who’ve lost loved ones to violence work to create memor - KCTV5

Families who’ve lost loved ones to violence work to create memorial

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A piece of concept art for the victims' memorial. (Submitted to KCTV) A piece of concept art for the victims' memorial. (Submitted to KCTV)

Kansas City families who have lost loved ones to violence will soon have a way to remember them forever.

A group of victims' advocates is working with the city to create a space to reflect and mourn in Brush Creek Park.

Too often, families who have lost a loved one to violence feel like they're suffering alone. When tragedy strikes in the form of a shooting or other violence, their community support often wanes over time. That's why a local church is working with the city to create a way to permanently remember those who died.

Tragedy struck Bishop Tony Caldwell a year and a half ago. His son, Kameron Gay, was shot and killed near Harrison and Armour.

The local pastor said he placed a makeshift memorial at the site. “It was taken down, said Caldwell, who is with the Eternal Life Church. “Because it wasn't permanent, it was taken down.”

For Caldwell's family and others who have lost loved ones, that didn't seem right.

“We have something for firefighters, police -- monuments for them,” he said. “They deserve that. But, what happens to that young man who no one knows about?”

That's why Caldwell's church is leading public meetings to build a memorial next to the Spirit of Freedom Fountain along Brush Creek.

Families picked a design that features an electronic scroll that lists the names of the hundreds of people killed in Kansas City in the past few years.

“This is a way for the family to be comforted," said Bishop L. James Harris, also with Eternal Life Church. "To be remembered not for the death, but for someone who had a life,”

Families hope a public memorial can bring attention to the chronic problem of violence in their city.

“Everybody concentrates on the death,” said Shahida Harris, a victims' advocate. “No one looks at what happens afterward.”

They believe a public structure can honor their loved ones, and bring justice and closure to grieving families.

“We can't just stand by and allow this to happen and allow their memory to go by the wayside,” Caldwell said.

The church will have more public meetings about the memorial for the next few weekends. They hope to have it built by the end of the year.

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