“This year there were 116 homicides and of that 116, there were 42 youths under the age of 25.”, said Executive Director, Carrington Lassiter.
Lassiter and his brother grew up performing with the NE Performing Arts Center.He said this year, they lost two of their own members to homicide.
Lassiter said, “It’s important that we hold this vigil because at the strike of midnight each youth that was killed through homicide is no longer considered a statistic in Washington, DC.
So, we want to honor their lives and we light a candle and say a prayer to let them know they’re still remembered.”
As the names of those killed were read aloud, people gathered held a burning candle in their honor.
Acting Captain Anthony Haythe with the DC Police Homicide Unit has attended the vigil for the last three years.
He said although the number of homicides will revert back to zero on New Year’s Day, those cases are still being investigated.
“Although it goes back to zero we do not forget the individuals who have died as a result of violence and the cases that are still open, so they will still be investigated by members of my own unit.”, said Captain Haythe.
Lassiter says the NE Performing Arts Center works to save lives by getting youth involved in things like dancing, singing, and most of all keeping them off the streets.
This is the 27th year the northeast performing arts center has held this vigil, but many are hopeful that one day, it won’t be necessary.
“We need to put the guns down. The senseless killing needs to stop and we need to get our youth involved in more programming.”, said Lassiter.