By: Brittany Comak

Email: bcomak@abc6.com

Twitter: @BComakABC6

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WLNE) - New Bedford residents gathered in the cold Thursday to remember and listen to the names of the dozens of homicide victims in the city since 2000.

"We want to make New Bedford realize that today we want to march for safer streets for our young people," said Director of the PACE YouthBuild New Bedford program Lisa Mellow-Frost.

In the last two decades, activists estimate more than 60 people have been murdered.

"We don't want to grow up in a society where all the youth is so quick to pick up a gun."

Thursday's vigil and peace march is an initiative by the students in the PACE YouthBuild New Bedford program who are working towards their GED.

"A lot of the young people that we work with don't see their lives beyond 25," said Mellow-Frost. "And that's a sad thing."

Since September, the students have been meeting with community officials, as well as the police, to discuss what more can be done to curb the violence.

"When something like this happens in the community, the effect is not just the family, it's not just the immediate family, there's definitely a ripple in the community and it leaves a hole amongst a lot of young people," said Melissa Correia of PACE YouthBuild New Bedford.

That hole is felt strongly by Nayelie Garcia, whose friend Paul Collazo-Ruiz was killed just last month.

"Knowing that he was in the same class as you and then one day you just wake up and then you find out he's gone, and then you just go into that class and he's not there, it's just crazy," Garcia said through tears. "You just never know when a person's going to be gone."

Unfortunately, some of those students said they often don't feel comfortable walking down the street, or even going to school sometimes.

Right now the goal is to improve the environment by creating more adult - youth mentorships to keep more youth from turning to gun or gang violence.

 

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