LUMBERTON, N.C. (WBTW) — Lumberton’s annual Christmas parade took place Saturday with one group using it as an opportunity to raise awareness about missing and murdered people in the area.
Dozens of organizations put together floats for the parade, most of them decorated with tinsel and basting Christmas music. The group Shatter the Silence covered its floats with pleas for justice.
“We just want people to see the victims and know we are not going to stop,” Shelia Price, the group’s executive director said. “We don’t care where we have to march, we don’t care where we have to speak up, we all want justice.”
Price started Shatter the Silence after her daughter, Rhonda Jones, was found murdered along with two other women.
“I have no answers almost five years later,” Price said. “I don’t even know when my child died. When that happened, I knew I had to do something.”
Price said the group has recorded 19 missing people and more than 100 unsolved murders in Robeson County.
“There are so many that there’s not enough law enforcement to work all these cases,” Price said.
Family members of the missing and murdered walked with the group to raise awareness about their loved ones. Tanisha Coleman, whose son Marqueise was murdered in Saint Pauls in July, said she wanted pictures of him in the parade to encourage those who know something to say something.
“I want somebody to speak up,” Coleman said. “Every day I go to Saint Pauls, and I have to keep looking over my shoulder because the killer is still walking around.”
She said the loss has been especially difficult with the holidays just around the corner.
“It’s heartbreaking,’ she said. “I never thought I’d be up here in a parade speaking about justice for my son. I don’t even want to celebrate the holidays.”
Members of the organization said keeping their loved ones’ memories alive and raising awareness makes them feel closer to those they have lost.
“I just want to say for everybody to pray for our group because we all cry together,” Price said.