Standing in front of St. Francis of Assisi Church Wednesday evening, the Rev. Lawrence Goode of St. Francis and Pastor Paul Bains of St. Samuel's Church said they had seen too much violence in East Palo Alto.
"We are tired of looking at bodies," Bains said.
People were gathering and entering the church for the third annual candlelighting service in memory of the 230 people who have been killed since the city incorporated in 1983.
Mayor Pat Foster started the memorial services two years ago.
"Community members said we had not grieved for the loss of their family members," Foster explained. "They said we did not care, but we grieved privately. This (service) sends a message to our youth, that we care. And it reaffirms the sanctity of life."
About half or more of the 150 or so people gathered in the church appeared to be high school students.
A choir from Eastside Prep started the service by walking down the aisle softly singing "Amazing Grace" as the congregation stood.
Pam Watt, whose son, Anthony Pickrom, 19, was shot and killed Jan. 17, lit the "candle of memory" as the service began. She earlier had said no one had been arrested in her son's shooting.
"We are remembering the victims of violence," Goode told the gathering. "A young man was shot this afternoon. We pray he will not be another one whose mother will be weeping."
"Everyone wants to remember the last time we had with a person," Jeanno Williams said. "I think about everyone I lost, all over some petty stuff."
Marinu Latu, who organized a peace march and rally a year ago, quoted Cornell West of Princeton University in saying we need "courage to be impatient with evil and patient with people. We bring courage with us, the courage to remember those we lost and the courage to confront the pain."
Speaking of hope, Nola Palefau said she is hoping for a time when "all guns are put down and the fighting has ended."
"We have lost too many beautiful people in the city of tears," a student, Mele Teu, said.
People then lit the candles they were holding as the lights of the church were turned off. About 20 young people took turns reading the names of the 230 people who had been killed in the last 25 years.
After the names were read, everyone raised their candles high.
This story contains 434 words.
If you are a paid subscriber, check to make sure you have logged in. Otherwise our system cannot recognize you as having full free access to our site.
If you are a paid print subscriber and haven't yet set up an online account, click here to get your online account activated.