Families affected by gun violence rally to remember loved ones

NORTH PHILADAELPHIA (WPVI) -- People filed into a North Philadelphia funeral home Saturday, signing the guest book and reflecting in front of a coffin. But it wasn't a memorial for just one person or even one family.

"We're able to unite with other families that have suffered the same tragedies," said Carmen Pagan of North Philadelphia.

The Anti-Gun Violence Memorial, organized by Operation Save Our City and the Healing Blanket Project, comes after three people were shot and killed in Philadelphia in a span of about 12 hours.

A coffin filled with bullet casings was a stark reminder of how many lives have been lost. It was placed next to a healing blanket made from woven yarn scraps by a local textile artist.

"The Healing Blanket Project is that whole idea of the journey through sorrow and to possibility and comfort and healing and hope," said Kathryn Pannepacker, The Healing Blanket Project.

When the artist started the Healing Blanket Project, each square represented a life lost. But as it continued to grow, there were too many deaths for her to keep up with. That's where the idea came from to hang tags on it in memory of their loved ones.

Stephen Dzikowski held his 3-year-old granddaughter as he showed us the tags in memory of his daughter.

"It's been a long year. It's been a long, tough year. I'm just trying to make it through," said Stephen Dzikowski, Stephanie Dzikowski's father.

One year ago, 22-year-old Stephanie Dzikowski was gunned downed in her Port Richmond home and so far there have been no arrests.

The continued violence inspired her father and so many others to attend the memorial.

"I think when they do something like this and they realize other families have been affected and they realize they have a voice, they keep going with it. They keep going and going, and next thing you know you have a group of new advocates," said Rosalind Pichardo, Operation Save Our City.
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