LYNN — After three people were killed in two separate shootings in the city on Saturday, more than 30 people took part in a demonstration calling for an end to gun violence Tuesday.
The event took place at the intersection of Essex Street and Porter Street, just steps away from where 25-year-old Abraham Diaz and 21-year-old Jandriel Heredia were killed in a shooting that injured five others.
“It’s been a tragedy all weekend,” Shantel Encarnacion, Heredia’s cousin and one of the event’s organizers, said. “Labor Day weekend is supposed to be the ending of summer going into the school year and it just ended on a really bad note for Lynn.”
Ivelisse Garcia, Heredia’s mother, was present when her son sustained fatal injuries from a drive-by shooting while family and friends held a going-away party.
Speaking at the event, Garcia said she appreciated how many people, especially young people, came out to make their voices heard and remember the shootings’ victims.
“They want to feel safe. They don’t want to hurt anybody and they’re not expecting to be hurt either,” Garcia said. “They don’t want that to happen to another friend or another relative.”
Garcia, who had been living in Revere with her son, said that members of her family have lived in the house where the shooting took place for more than 30 years. She added that she also lived there with her son at one point.
She said it was difficult to be back where her son was killed.
“It’s hard every day,” Garcia said. “I haven’t been able to go home. I don’t want to see his room. I don’t want to see his stuff.”
Garcia said her son, who graduated from KIPP Academy Lynn in 2020, was going to start a second job this week and had been taking classes at Bunker Hill Community College.
“He was making good decisions,” she said.
Ward 6 City Councilor Fred Hogan had worked with Diaz during his time with Stop The Violence: Lynn.
“This hits home,” Hogan said. “It just hurts when any kid in the city is struck by violence, but when it hits home it really hurts a lot.”
Hogan said his organization encourages more people to bring new ideas to the table to help young people in the community and prevent tragedies like Saturday’s shootings.
“This is our worst nightmare,” Hogan said. “Any of these kids could have been there, anyone could have been there.”
Malika MacDonald also attended the demonstration with her granddaughter, who is a current student at KIPP Academy.
MacDonald said more work needs to be done to create opportunities for youth activities in Lynn.
“Our young people today lack outlets for any positive influence in their lives,” MacDonald said. “Lynn has very little to offer young people.”
She also said the city needs more mentors who can relate to what young people in the city are going through.
“Almost every young person under 18 in Lynn has faced some form of trauma. If not directly, they’ve had it in their lives,” MacDonald said. “We need more street workers and outreach workers that don’t throw away kids and don’t give up… (Young people) need people in their lives that are going to be there no matter what they throw at them.”
Antonio Gutierrez, of Lynn Youth Street Outreach Advocacy, which works with teens and young adults in the community, echoed MacDonald’s points.
He said that it is time for politicians and other leaders to stop talking about issues and take serious action to stop the violence in the community.
“Enough with the microphones, enough with the prayers,” Gutierrez said. “Something has to change… or this is what we’re going to keep doing. ”