Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said 2012 was a "tough year" for the city, which recorded 131 homicides. "We won't change unless we can give our young people hope," Quan told about 100 people at St. Columba Church Dec. 31.
About 100 people gathered for an annual ceremony at St. Columba Church in Oakland marking the homicides that took place during the year.
During the year, a white cross bearing the name and birthdate, if known, of each murder victim is placed in front of St. Columba. At the end of the year, an interfaith ceremony including song and prayer is followed by the removing of the crosses, reading the names of those killed, a procession and testimonials of friends and family members.
"We pray for a better day," said Rev. Aidan McAleenan, pastor at St. Columba. This year, he explained, St. Columba had also placed a larger cross in honor of the 28 deaths, mostly children, in Newtown, Connecticut.
Many family members took home the crosses of their loved ones. Those that remain are repainted and will be used again this year.
"The whole city needs to be here today," said Mayor Jean Quan, adding she was "looking for the year when there are no crosses on the lawn and 1,000 people in the church."
Police Chief Howard Jordan offered condolences to the families and assured that the police department is "working endlessly" to keep the city safe.
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