OAKLAND, Calif. - Friday was a night of healing and remembrance for families who've lost loved ones to violence in Oakland.
A mother whose twin sons were shot and killed hosted this annual event. She said the holiday season is especially hard for people coping with their loss.
The event was both somber and uplifting. Families whose loss was recent, gathered with those whose loved ones were killed years ago.All said the gathering provided invaluable support.
"In memory of my twin sons Albade Ttaylor and Obadiah Taylor who were victims of gun violence here in the city of Oakland," Lorrain Taylor said as she held up two angel ornaments representing her twin sons.
She said they were killed the same night by someone in a dispute over a girl. Taylor placed them on the tree of remembrance at St Columba Catholic Church in Oakland to honor victims of violence.
Monique Harriel said she's lost family and friends to gun violence, and she hung up angel ornaments,"I'm hanging this in honor of my husband and his brother, murdered 30 years ago. And this is for my friend Angie of Angel Cakes bakery. She was murdered recently."
Taylor founded 1000 Mothers to Prevent Violence. Friday's event was the group's 12th Annual Purple Gala, an evening of healing. Purple is an acronym for prayer, unity, restoration, peace, love and empowerment.
"The holidays, it's really difficult for us. We miss those seats being filled at the table," said Taylor. On this night, seats at the table were filled by families sharing the pain of loss from street and gun violence.
"When you know somebody else who has felt that kind of loss, you can relate to each other," Shantee Baker said her 27-year-old daughter Jessica Kingeter was killed during an attempted rape two days after Christmas almost 11 years ago. She said people should not have to go through this kind of pain.
Violet Lott knew too well that pain. Around 1:15am on April 23rd in East Oakland, her son DeMar Lott was killed. She said the college student was caught in the crossfire. Her pain was tempered by pride that he was an organ donor.
She said in death, he gave life to 3 people,"There is a young man whose life was saved when my son's was lost. Organ donation, I take comfort in that."
Taylor lost her twin sons to gun violence 23 years ago. Her journey to healing is long and continuous.
"We need all the hugs and love that we can get after this indescribable pain we live with and deal with," Taylor said. This is the first time she's held this annual event since the pandemic. Her mission to help other families who share the same pain, is ongoing.
Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at Amber.Lee@Fox.com or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU, Instagram @AmberKTVU or Twitter @AmberKTVU.