In a nondescript West Palm beach strip mall is a small office; on the door, it reads Mothers Against Murderers Association.
Also known as MAMA, the nonprofit is a meeting space for families who have lost loved ones to gun violence in Palm Beach County.
Angela Williams started the organization 10 years ago. The walls are lined with large photos of mostly moms holding pictures of their children who were killed by gunfire. A solemn gallery of death.
Williams talked to WLRN reporter Nadege Green about why she created this space.
An excerpt of the conversation:
My nephew Tory was shot with an AK-47 in Riviera Beach, Fla., where he resided. He was shot seven times.
I was totally still in disbelief and denial that Tory was dead. And after the funeral my sister was just going through so much.
I'd get phone calls from her other son—she only had two children— and he used to call me and tell me his mom is in the shopping plaza. So I go to Winn-Dixie plaza and I find my sister in the car screaming, hollering, calling Tory’s name. I'd get her out the car and get her back home safely. And it kept going on day after day, week after week
I was riding down 45th street and said, "God, Lord, Jesus help me help my sister." And something just came to me and just said, "You need to start an organization."
So that's why I came up with Mothers Against Murderers Association.
My sister went through having a nervous breakdown. She had a stroke behind Tory's death.
I lost 16 total including Tory to gun violence over a 14-year period. Nieces and nephews.
I lost one niece. [She] got into an altercation with another young girl in school and the girl's older brother came by and did a drive-by and killed my niece. She was 12. Christina was 12
Some mothers get the phone call. Some mothers get a knock on the door. Some mothers find out about their child getting killed through social media.
They don't have an easy life after they lose their child. Their life is never the same, but they learn to cope with it.
So I have to do what I can do to try to keep these doors open so those people know they have a place to come. Some days they are good, but when those holidays come— Christmas and birthdays, it's hard for them.
That's why I'm trying to give a wake-up call to the community.
They don't see a mother going to visit her child's grave every day. They don't see a mother sitting in the hot car with those windows rolled up screaming their babies' names.
I have gone to 363 funerals myself and I have literally seen those mothers fall to their knees inside the church. And the people have to try to get them up because their baby is lying in that coffin.
The mothers tell me in group meetings, they say, "People don't understand."
They’ll say, "You haven't got over your child yet?" I hear that so much. "It's been a year. You should be out of it by now."
How do you get over losing a child?
Two years ago I went through breast cancer. And you know what kept me going? This organization. I went to my chemo; I went to my radiation and when I get through I come right to this office. I had to walk into this office because I had to help these families.
Oh, everybody's engaged when it happens. "Rest in peace." They wear the shirts. Social media: "I'm praying for you. Sorry for your loss." Those type of quotes.
Everybody is very sympathetic, but they go on with their lives. Not the parents, not the parents.