LYNN — Stop the Violence continuously fights to keep peace in the city and the organization has been working with the family of Romel Danis to honor his memory.
On Sunday, members from Stop the Violence and the Lynn Youth Street Outreach Advocacy took a bus from Union Street to Boston to march in the Puerto Rican Festival parade in honor of Danis, who was killed in a triple-shooting in June.
“The Puerto Rican festival is a great way to get our name out there and for everyone else in Boston to see what we do,” said Rob Smith, committee member for Stop the Violence. “We can all meet and work together to stop violence in our communities and who knows what can come of that.”
The festival celebrated its 51st year in Boston with three days of family-friendly events. Among the many free activities were cultural performances, food kiosks offering comfort foods, amusement rides, and a commencement parade to close it out.
Smith, who has been on the committee since its inception in 2014, said a busload of about 30 people, including many of Danis’ family members, met around 8 a.m. at 312A Union St. before heading off to keep Danis’ name alive in Boston. Maria Rivera is a Lynn resident and board member for the Puerto Rican Festival. When she decided to send a message of stopping violence at this year’s celebration, she knew just who to call. Smith answered that call and he, and the rest of the committee members, agreed to take part in the parade.
“Everything we do is youth-oriented,” said Smith. “We want to make a difference with our youth so maybe we’re able to stop the violence at the crossroads.”
The two Lynn organizations and Danis’ family walked with a banner in his honor and wore t-shirts with “Stop the Violence” printed on them. The community organization will also honor his memory on Sept. 22, during their annual Walk for Peace event. Beginning at noon, they will walk from High Rock Tower on the KIPP Academy side all the way to Lawton Avenue, where Danis was killed and two others were shot. This walk will be similar to one in honor of Ashlee Berryman, who was shot and killed outside of a nightclub in Everett three years ago. Berryman and Danis were both members of the Lynn Tech Class of 2012.
“The walk sends a message and it gets people’s attention,” said Smith. “If we can save just one person, then we have done our job.”
Smith, a resident of Lynn for more than 55 years, remembers growing up in the city when it was safe to roam around with friends until the early hours of the morning. He acknowledges the change in the city and how its safety is nothing like what it was back then. He believes much of the violence and acts of crime are because there are not enough activities provided for kids to keep them away from danger.
“We need to find things for these kids to do, we need to keep them busy,” he said. “An active kid is a kid that can’t get in trouble. We are out there and we are doing the best we can to stop the violence in Lynn.”