MILWAUKEE — For too many families, 2020 is the year a loved one was taken away by violence.
A yearly candlelight vigil in Milwaukee shows they are not forgotten, but in a record-setting year, the church's table overflowed with candles.
In 2020, there have been 189 homicide victims, according to Milwaukee Police.
"To light that candle is very hard," said LaFaysha Drew whose older brother Levell was killed in August.
Northcott Neighborhood House, Inc. hosted the vigil at El-Bethel Church of God in Christ as it does every year. Each candle represented a life lost to violence in 2020. Each person sitting inside the church came with a hole in their heart.
Because of the pandemic organizers had to limit the number of people who could attend.
With a historic number of people killed in Milwaukee, it took readers about 10 minutes to say each person's name out loud.
"It was very hard. I almost didn’t make it," said LaFaysha.
She said Levell was a father of three and a joy to be around.
"It’s just unbearable to imagine that he will not be here anymore," said LaFaysha. "It definitely makes me feel a little stronger to see all the people here and that I am not alone."
U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore attended the vigil after testing positive for COVID-19 and prayed for people to protect each other.
Pastors and community leaders shared words of grief and called for action to end violence encouraging people to speak up and come together.
Tony Kearney, Executive Director for Northcott Neighborhood House, Inc., hoped people watching would take away this message:
"Take a moment before you act because each of these individuals that we are acknowledging today would still be here if people had taken a moment to breathe," said Kearney.