Christine Stuart photo

The pain of losing a child was still raw for many gathered outside the Capitol Thursday morning for a rally against violence.

“Words can never explain how devastating the loss of a child is,” Reverend Henry Brown told the crowd of about 20 people, who had walked there with him from the corner of Main Street and Albany Avenue in the city’s northend.

A handful of mothers who have lost their children, mostly to gun violence, were also given an opportunity to speak at the rally.

Pam Joiner, whose 25-year-old son Jumar Joiner, was shot in Hartford just a few weeks ago, said “Don’t wait until this happens to your family.”

Joiner said her son was shot by someone he thought was a friend. “You have to be careful about the company you keep,” she warned. She said the person who murdered her son “just pulled my heart out of my chest.”

Christine Stuart photo

Joiner and her sisters have spent the last few weeks circulating a petition that calls on the governor and the city to come together and express their concerns about the violence in Hartford. So far the Joiner sisters have collected more than 1,000 signatures.

Henrietta Beckman, the director of Mothers United Against Violence, lost her 20-year-old son Randy in 2002. She said he was shot on Barber Street and was on life support for four days before he finally passed away.

“Children have to realize guns kill,” Beckman said before beginning to cry. “We love our children and they love us and they want us to stop this violence.”

Christine Stuart photo

Rep. Marie Kirkely-Bey, D-Hartford, said she wants the community to start working together to put an end to the violence in her neighborhood and throughout the city.

She said there is no gun store in Hartford, yet guns continue to find there way into the city. “We need to wage war on those bringing the guns to the city,” she said.

“Our kids need to understand guns are not the answer,” Kirkely-Bey said. She said she knows the streets are no longer safe and she’s met with the mayor and the chief of police to make sure they’re coordinating their efforts.

However, neither the mayor of the chief of police was there Thursday. Kirkley-Bey said later in the afternoon that Rev. Brown was the one coordinating the event and he told her he was going to invite them.

Meanwhile, Kirkley-Bey said she’s looking at a program called CeaseFire that’s been successful in Chicago and wants to see if she can replicate it in Hartford.

Click here for the New York Times magazine article on the CeaseFire program Kirkley-Bey is looking to bring to Hartford.