Remembering Tatyana Shawnte Francis: A celebration“We talk about gun violence and we talk about creating opportunities for our young people, creating leadership and mentorship programs – but this girl was part of all of that. She was engaged in all of those things. She came from a community where she was loved,” said Providence City Councilmember Nirva LaFortune. “So what do you say to that?”
Published on May 21, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist
Over 200 people gathered outside the Nonviolence Institute in Providence on Thursday to celebrate the life of 19-year-old Tatyana Shawnte Francis who was shot and killed in a senseless act of violence in Pawtucket last Sunday. The event was done in cooperation with Sisters Inspiring Sisters, the Nonviolence Institute, Moms Demand Action, Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, Year Up and Tatyana’s family.
Sophonie LaFortune, who founded Sisters Inspiring Sisters, a group that works to empower Black and brown girls, led the event. Not too long ago LaFortune’s organization partnered with local businesses to recognize and celebrate ten seniors across the state of Rhode Island. Tatyana was one of those young women, with a bright future ahead of her.
“Tonight, we celebrate her – again – for the beautiful life that she lived, for the beautiful exchange that she shared, and for the impact she made on so many people that are here tonight,” said LaFortune.
“Tonight, we are all victims of this senseless – I don’t even know what to call it – but it doesn’t make sense,” said Cedric Huntley, executive director of the Nonviolence Institute.
“We’re tired, we are losing lives in our community every single day,” said Lisa Pina-Warren director of Victim Services and Street Outreach at the Nonviolence Institute. “This isn’t the only reason we should be coming together. We should be coming together to celebrate, honor each other and love each other.”
“Out of this terrible tragedy, out of this darkness, some light can come out of it,” said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. “We know what the problems are. There are too many guns on the street. Groups like Moms Demand Action, they’ve been fighting for years and years and years for common sense gun control… If we truly come together we can make sure that comprehensive, common sense gun control gets passed this year at the General Assembly…”
In what was by far the most emotional part of the event, a member of Tatyana’s family spoke in love and grief.
George Nippo from Year Up spoke next. Year Up is a group that works with young people to get them the skills they need in career or higher education. Tatyana was currently enrolled in the program.
Eugenie with a poem:
Michelle, with a prayer:
A moment of silence:
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Tatyana’s oldest aunt spoke next, in another emotional moment:
Cedric Huntley closed of the celebration:
Tatyana didn’t do anything wrong, said Providence City Councilmember Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), arriving after the city council meeting ended. “In fact, she was being a teenager, right? She was hanging out with someone her mom said don’t hang out with, and she was in a car, and someone with a rifle shot and killed her, for nothing. For nothing.
“We talk about gun violence and we talk about creating opportunities for our young people, creating leadership and mentorship programs – but this girl was part of all of that. She was engaged in all of those things. She came from a community where she was loved.
“So what do you say to that?”