PHILADELPHIA - The founder of Operation Save Our City is camping out this weekend to promote peace and honor the memory of those taken too soon.
"I have my sleeping bag. I have some soup," said Rosalind Pichardo of Operation Save Our City. It’s Friday night at a lot at the corner of 2nd and Huntington in West Kensington.
"I got a little heater. I got hoagies,” she said. She’s camping out here until Sunday to promote peace and raise awareness about violence. It's a sacrifice she's making to let families that have lost loved ones know the victims aren't forgotten.
“Just knowing that I can help families through the grieving process and that they’re not alone," she said. One tent is where she will sleep and anyone who wants to join her for the cause. The other is lined with pictures of men, women and children who have been murdered.
"This is Justin Reyes and he was murdered on Sixth Street. It's been eight years. This Debra and she was murdered on 22nd and Lehigh behind Dobbins High School and was just left in a field," she said as she showed pictures of two victims whose murders remain unsolved.
The fence surrounding her tents bears the faces of more victims. Maria Martinez came by to put up a picture of her son who she tells FOX 29's Shawnette Wilson was beaten to death June of last year.
“That’s my son. My only son. My firstborn," she said. "You see other mothers who experience the same thing and the same loss. You see it on the news, you read about it and it’s the worse feeling in the world."
Her son’s oldest daughter was also there. Missing her dad she keeps a picture of him around her neck. Martinez says what Pichardo is doing gives her strength.
“I have said I am my son’s voice. My son is no longer here but I am his voice," she said. Pichardo whose brother and boyfriend were murdered knows exactly what these families are going through.
"We're standing up for them and we’re fighting for justice for many cases that are unsolved. No, they’re not alone,” she said.
It’s the seventh year she’s done the camp out hoping to also inspire families to become advocates for their loved ones.
According to the Philadelphia Police Department website as of Thursday night, there have been 34 murders already this year.
For more information on Operation Save Our City, please click here.
For resources for victims of violence in Philadelphia, see here.
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