KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Two-hundred-eight. That’s how many people have died by violence in the Kansas City metro this year; there are still two more days left in 2018.
Saturday night, a tradition that’s lasted a generation continued: a vigil for those who will never see the next generation.
Crystal Parish stood in front of about 40 people, wearing a red shirt. She took a deep breath, and began reading off a sheet of paper. She was joined by four other women. There were seven sheets of paper, with 208 names in all.
Each name read represented a life taken. Each name represented a family shattered. Each name represented a community with an invisible scar.
Name after name after name after name.
"To read those names, is to feel their cry," Parish said. "To help them, to support them through the pain that they're feeling right now.”
Parish knows the feeling all too well. In 2012, she stood in the room and read her son’s name. Terrance TL Parish was 19 when he was shot and killed.
But on Saturday night, no family member stood for any of the 208 victims of metro violence. Instead, it was the 40 volunteers like Parish who called out their names.
This Ad Hoc Group Against Crime Year End Vigil is a 40 year tradition.
“Started the vigils in 1978,” Ad Hoc founder Alvin Brooks said. “And we have been having vigils ever since.”
It's a tradition they wish to break, said current Ad Hoc Group Against Crime Damon Daniel. “I wish we never have to do another vigil,” he said.
But they do. Because every year, there are violent deaths in the metro. But at the vigil, those in attendance light a candle, hope its the last candle for a life lost.
“It's part of the healing process,” explained Brooks, “and that's why we did it, and that's why we do it.”
Those 208 names included those from all parts of the metro. Olathe, Parkville, and Blue Springs. But the vast majority of them, 133 as of Friday, are from Kansas City, Missouri.