INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — It’s been a sobering reminder of violent crime in the Kansas City area for nearly a decade.

Each December, Mothers in Charge, a community anti-violence group in Kansas City, Missouri, organizes “The Longest Night.” It’s meant to call attention to the growing gun violence problem locally.

Sadly, the annual roll call of victims is getting more painful. Kansas City activists from Mothers in Charge spent Monday beginning preparation for The Longest Night, when each year’s homicide victims are mourned.

For nearly a decade, crosses have been placed in the yards of various churches, one per each murder victim. Volunteers placed their names on the crosses Monday afternoon.

“I’ve been fighting and trying to prevent someone’s child not to be a victim like mine was,” Rosliyn Temple, Mothers in Charge’s organizer, said.

Temple’s own son, Antonio Thompson, was gunned down in a 2011 incident. Police haven’t found his killer yet.

“There’s no way we should be at 160 homicides on December 5th 2022,” Temple lamented.

The total of 160 murders is a running total as of Monday morning. That total can grow with less than three weeks remaining this year.

Kansas City, Missouri’s murders are is on pace to be one of the deadliest in metro history. The 2020 record of 179 will likely remain the worst. KCPD crime records show a large number of those homicides came from someone with a handgun.

“It takes me back again to those crime scenes where the mother might be on the ground and can’t breathe. I’ve been there and I understand that pain,” Temple said on Monday.

Organizers of “The Longest Night” have moved the event to the Gathering Baptist Church on Noland Road in Independence, giving it a new visibility outside the Kansas City, Missouri city limits. Mark Clifton, who orchestrates this ceremony each year, said this side of Jackson County is also suffering from violence.

“At Christmas time, to have this kind of an image on the law reminds people that our city does have some problems and there are people who are hurting and there’s much work to be done,” Clifton said.

The Longest Night includes a Dec. 21 memorial service at Gathering Baptist Church. Temple continues to press for stronger gun laws and stiffer penalties from law enforcement. Mothers in Charge will keep these crosses in the church’s front yard through the new year.

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