Purple and white balloons floated above Rome City Hall and Broad Street Sunday evening as We Matter protesters honored the memory of Truvenia Campbell and Vanita Richardson.
Both women’s mothers spoke to the protesters before the balloon release, thanking them and local law enforcement who investigated the case of the half sisters whose bodies were dumped over the side of a bridge off the East bypass on May 13.
Vanita Richardson, who has the same name as her murdered daughter, thanked Federal Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Rome police and Floyd County police for their work in the case.
“We struggled so hard from going to planning her graduation to planning her funeral,” she said. “It has been so hard on all of us.”
Donna Campbell thanked the protesters for their support and help in honoring her daughter.
From July 17 to July 25, nine people were arrested in connection to the case, including Desmond Lavonta Brown, 28; Devin Lashawn Watts, 36; and Christopher Leedarius Pullen, 23. All three men are charged with murder as well as theft and abandonment of a dead body.
After the balloon release, organizer Candice Spivey led protesters in chants in front of city hall, such as “Up with love, down with hate,” “Black lives matter,” “We are Rome,” and “No justice, no peace.” They also chanted the names of victims of police brutality around the country, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Tamir Rice.
Taylor Ritchie also talked to protestors about Romanos Unidos, a local nonpartisan organization dedicated to standing with the immigrant population in Rome and serving as a resource to those in need in the Hispanic-Latino community.
“If there’s anything we can raise awareness for or help with, message us on Facebook and let us know if you guys need anything,” Ritchie said.