PORTSMOUTH, Va - Mothers who have lost sons to gun violence came together to lean on each other and lean on city leaders. Portsmouth's new city manager Tonya Chapman and Interim Police Chief Stephen Jenkins listened and took notes as mothers spoke. Unseen Tears, is a support group for mothers who lost sons impacted by gun violence.
Debra Jones lost her son Jamel Howell to gun violence in Portsmouth.
"He was killed on America Night Out," Jones said.
Her son was killed in 2019. She says she’s been coming to these meetings for six months to connect with mothers who are coping.
"We can get together cry and laugh. Everybody understands the pain and the hurt," Jones said.
City manager Tonya Chapman spoke with mothers who lost sons to gun violence. Chapman says her goal is to reduce crime with her initiative, Rock the Block, to address crime concerns.
"We’re going to select a neighborhood and start with each neighborhood starting in August. I’m going to go out into the community, talk to the community and find out what their issues and concerns are," Chapman said to a group of Portsmouth mothers.
Chapman urges citizens if they see something to say something.
"We need your help. We can only go so far. We can only see so much. You have to share if you care," Chapman said.
Cedric Cradle, the organizer -- and founder of Unseen Tears provides support and free portraits to families who’ve lost loved ones to gun violence.
"We make it to give to the families for the healing process," Cradle said.
Cradle paints portraits and gives them to families impacted by gun violence. His organization also provides counseling services to mothers. Cradle says his main goal is to provide an outlet for mothers – who have lost sons to gun violence one step at a time.