MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A memorial has been erected in downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park to recognize the thousands of lives lost to gun violence across the state of Florida in 2020.
Three thousand white vases, each one decorated with flowers, were placed on the lawn at Bayfront Park as part of the Gabby Gifford Gun Violence Memorial.READ MORE: Facing South Florida: Focusing On The Movement To End Gun Violence
The initiative was created by former congresswoman Gabby Gifford who survived an assassination attempt in January 2011. Six people were killed during the attack.
“I’ve known the darkest of days. Days of pain and uncertain recovery,” said Giffords.
The former congresswoman stood alongside former congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Congresswoman Val Demings as they demanded more action from Congress on what they referred to as “common sense gun control.”
“My recovery is a daily fight but fighting makes me stronger! Words once came easily, today I struggle to speak but I have not lost my voice. America needs all of us to speak out,” said Giffords.
Stacey Welch whose daughter survived the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, also spoke at the event. She highlighted the growing number of young lives affected by gun violence.
“Since 2018, there have been over 14,300 children between the ages of 0-17 that have been shot and either injured or killed,” said Welch.READ MORE: Miami Gardens Faith Leaders, Officials & Community Members Come Together To Remember Lives Lost To Gun Violence
Former congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell went on to highlight exactly how many lives.
“Our nation is in crisis; we are in a gun violence emergency. Our country experienced a 29% increase in gun homicides last year,” said Mucarsel-Powell.
It’s a crisis that has taken about 45,000 across the country in 2020 and it’s a fight congresswoman Val Demings wants to take head on.
“Can’t we do more than stand at a podium, go to the Senate floor and offer thoughts and prayers? I believe we can,” said Demings.
In Florida, gun deaths rose 8% last year.
The rise in violent crime is an epidemic that is happening “all across the country,” according to the Council on Criminal Justice, and a result of three major factors: the impact of COVID-19 on communities and first responders, the fallout of the social unrest after the murder of George Floyd, and the surge in gun sales since the start of the pandemic.