INDIANAPOLIS — Sunday marks the first time several Indianapolis area mothers will celebrate Mother’s Day since losing their child to gun violence.
Jeanna Parker, founder of Parents Forever 4 Justice, and Melissa Jude, president of the nonprofit How Tired Are You Inc., wanted to show other mothers who have endured similar pain and loss to what they’ve experienced, that they don’t have to go through it alone.
“We decided to throw a Mother’s Day picnic for mothers of homicide victims just because it’s the first Mother’s Day for a lot of us that have lost our children,” said Melissa Jude, whose 20-year-old son, Chandler Bussey, was shot and killed in June of 2020.
Around 10 mothers who lost a child to gun violence attended Saturday’s picnic, as well as several families and volunteers who help support the efforts.
“All of our situations are different,” said Parker. “Everybody experiences something different, but we’re all dealing with heartbreak, and we are tired of the murders.”
“Some of us, they’ve been in it for a long time, and we know that this is probably going to be painful for a lot of mothers, so we just wanted to come together and support each other,” said Jude.
Parker said the last year has been a rollercoaster of emotions for her and her family. Her 20-year-old son, Corhon Williams, was shot and killed just days after Jude’s son.
She said Saturday’s event was a moment of healing and peace for her after a year that has been extraordinarily difficult, and she hopes the day provided the same feeling of support for others who attended.
“It felt good to comfort somebody else so I could forget what I was feeling today,” said Parker. “I don’t want anybody to have to suffer a Mother’s Day without their child.”
Parker said each of her children have a special place in her heart, but that the day her son’s life was taken, a piece of her heart was too.
“That place is gone with my son, and it’s never going to be complete,” she said through tears.
Jude and Parker have turned their lived experiences of heartache and grief into a push for justice in honor of their sons and the many others who have lost their lives at a young age to gun violence.
“If I don’t ever receive justice for my son, I need to make sure that I am pulling for somebody else to receive justice for their son,” shared Parker. “That’s my whole purpose. No, it may not feel good that my son may never receive justice, but my heart is pulling for the next parent to receive a favorable outcome for their situation.”
Parker said she wants everyone who is impacted by gun violence — mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, whoever it may be — to know that they are not in this fight alone.
“We want the guns off the street. We want justice. We want better relationships with detectives and better relationships with the mayor and whoever it is that can help the next mother falling behind me,” said Parker.
“We’re out here trying to make changes,” she continued. “It starts somewhere. It starts with one person, one organization. It starts somewhere.”
Parker said when people don’t get involved on the front end and demand change, the cycle continues.
“The more people that don’t say anything, the more people that don’t put a hand in to try and help, the more people that turn a blind eye, the more people that keep their mouth shut is the more murders that are going to happen,” she said.
“People are so cold. It’s not okay. It should not be normalized to wake up to three or four murders a day,” expressed Parker.
She said when another life is taken due to gun violence, even just reading about it, is something that brings her back to last year when she learned her son was one of two people killed in a shooting.
“It breaks your heart all over again,” said Parker. “It’s just like your child getting killed or your brother, whoever, getting killed all over again.
“There has to be something done, and we have to stop acting like this should be our new normal life, and it should be okay. It’s not okay, and we have to step in and do something about it.”
The two mothers were brought together in a way they never expected, but they want to initiate change in the community so they can help lessen the number of families who have to endure the loss of a child due to gun violence.
Both mothers continue to pursue justice in their own son’s cases. There have still been no arrests made in either.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS (8477). Tips are considered anonymous and could be worth a reward up to $1,000.