Peace march held for 12-year-old shooting victim
Two weeks after a 12-year-old girl was gunned down in Providence, the neighborhood rose up in protest.
A large crowd showed up Saturday evening for a peace march and prayer vigil in memory of Aynis Vargas.
"I pray that her death is not in vain," said one clergyman at the march. "I pray her memory lives in your heart and motivates you to be the change that we need to see."
Those were the words many people were thinking as they quietly marched down Hartford Avenue not far from where the girl was killed. More than 100 marchers came to honor her. Everyone from mothers, fathers to children all holding signs begging for peace.
"It's time that, you know, we teach our children we have to stand up for what's right and take back our community," said Diana Garlington, a woman who lost her grown daughter to gun violence over a year ago.
The group solemnly bowed their heads to pray as it passed where Aynis was shot. A memorial of flowers and stuffed animals still marks the spot.
"I'm going to stop looking back because that reminds me of the day that it happened," said one of the girls leading the march.
With each step, marchers made a promise to do their part to better the neighborhood with the belief the march is just the beginning of change.
At the end of the short walk, Aynis' father pleaded with the community to demand peace.
"We have to be united to fight with a kind of person like that," Teo Vargas said.
He also begged the crowd to help the police find his daughter's killer.
"I think it's truly a call for action," Providence Police Chief Col. Hugh Clements said. "I think it's an awareness of the community that they know that they need to reach out to members in their community that can help police out in this shooting and all gun violence in this city."
Clements wouldn't say if police have a suspect, but said at this point they're depending solely on information officers on the ground uncover. He lamented the fact the few people in the community have come forward with information.
"We are going to make sure that justice prevails," Dean Vincent with the NAACP said. "We are going to make sure that murder and mayhem are not a part of our community. It just doesn't make since, and we're going to stop it now. It ends here. It ends with this 12 year old. No more violence. If it doesn't end here than where does it end?"
Many members of the community said they have plans to host additional programs to help neighbors stand together and fight city violence.
The police department asked anyone with information about the shooting can call them anonymously on their gun tip hotline 855-766-7100.