LYNN — A month after the death of Romel Danis, friends and family will honor him during a concert at Boston City Hall Plaza on Friday.
While most families continuously struggle with grief after the loss of a loved one, Danis’ family is doing what they can to start conversations and spread awareness about stopping the violence. This weekend, as part of Boston’s Puerto Rican festival, Danis will be honored with a concert performance from one of his best friends, Dennis Hernandez. The Lynn vocalist will perform an original song that mentions Danis’ impact on everyone he met and how much he is missed.
“My hope for tomorrow is just for people to see this isn’t something that shouldn’t be talked about,” said Hernandez. “Everyone should try to connect with someone because so many people are lost or they’re depressed. We need to be there for each other because if the right people were there for Romel that night we wouldn’t be having to do this.”
Hernandez met Danis and his older brother, Jhonny Bryan, in 2012 when they started a musical group called Prodigy. The three, along with a few others, spent endless nights creating music and coming up with video skits together at the home of Danis and Bryan. As the years went by and the boys got older, Bryan started a family while Hernandez and Danis continued to hang out in their homemade studio and become closer. Years later, the two friends had a falling out and didn’t speak to each other for a number of years. Hernandez was finally able to reconnect with his best friend and make amends, but it was on the same day that Danis would be shot and killed.
“I was heartbroken when I found out so casually the next morning,” said Hernandez. “I’ve cried when close people to me have died but I’ve never cried for a friend like that because it was harder, given we had just reconnected. We were getting in touch and going to go back to our old ways and I didn’t know how to handle it.”
The friends and family of the Lynn victim have been very vocal about their frustrations regarding the violence going on across the country. The day after his burial, Danis’ family held a block party that was open to the community in hopes of raising enough money to pay for the services. They ended up donating half of the proceeds from the party to the Stop The Violence movement in Lynn.
“If we are hurting, we imagine how many other families are going through the same thing,” said Bryan. “It’s not just our family; there are millions out there and this shouldn’t be such a normal thing that’s in the news one day and forgotten about the next day.”
Evangeline Rivera grew up close with Danis and many of his cousins. The day she found out about his death, she was sitting in her mother’s car listening to her talk about the brutal murder of 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz in the Bronx, N.Y. Sick of seeing people she knows being murdered and violent acts going on so frequently, Rivera and her mother, Maria Rivera, knew that enough was enough.
“She broke down in the car and said, ‘I’m tired of doing this, tired of lighting candles for my friends,’” said Maria Rivera. “That’s what sparked this event because enough is enough and, personally, I don’t think these kids should have to be burying their friends.”
Maria Rivera has lived in Lynn for 21 years with her five children. She knew her position as a board member for the Puerto Rican Festival in Boston would help spread awareness and create a platform to discuss what happened to Romel Danis, and all the other kids that have been killed by senseless acts of violence across the country.
Tomorrow night’s event at Boston City Hall Plaza will begin around 6 p.m., with an introduction from Stop The Violence, a performance of “Romel Anthem” by Hernandez, and other performances by Love & Hip Hop’s breakout star Amara La Negra and American rapper Lumidee.
“I hope that everyone gets the idea that the violence needs to stop,” said Evangeline Rivera. “I want more people to be aware of what happened and I don’t want Romel’s name to die. I’m trying to keep his name alive.”