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Tree of Life honors victims of violence

WBFO News File Photo

Families had a chance Tuesday night to remember relatives and friends who have been victims of violence in the 12th annual Tree of Life event at True Bethel Baptist Church.

Though sponsors wish the need for the event would go away, they see some progress, with fewer victims and greater public willingness to do something about the deaths.

Willie Green says he joined anti-violence efforts because of the murder toll in his own family.
"Seventeen people in two years, period. I had to get out here. I felt like I was stuck in a revolving door, coming to the churches," Green said. 

"Then, I started seeing these guys with the yellow and black on, they were Peacemakers and the Stop the Violence Coalition. I said, you know what, in order to change things, I got to be a part of it."

Stop the Violence Coalition Executive Director Murray Holman says there has been some progress.

"You have gang members coming forward, citizens in the community. Even on the corners at Delavan and Grider, a man pulled over and told us about a young man stuffing a gun on the side of his house. He called law enforcement and got some red tape and he said nevermind and ran to the corner and told us," Holman said.

Some of those at the event said they were there to support those who lost people to violence and build support in case they do lose someone.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.