NEW BEDFORD- The Walk to Remember Victims of Opioid Use and Survivors of Opioid Abuse kicked off Wednesday night at Joseph P. Monte playground on Acushnet Avenue.

The walk is designed to raise awareness of the dangers opioid use and the lasting effects it has on not only the user, but also the family and community at large. The residents at the event spoke of this reality before the walking began, urging each other to combat the drug-use, sale, and violent crimes that are associated with it.

New Bedford Chief of Police Joseph Cordeiro was the first to speak at the march.

Cordeiro, who is Chairman of the Greater New Bedford Opioid Task Force, has kept busy lately in the fight against addiction. Earlier today, the chief announced the start of a monthly drop-in center alongside Mayor Jon Mitchell, which aims to provide a safe space for those struggling with opioids or their families a chance to seek help.

“It’s a day I wish we didn’t have to be here, but we are here” said Chief Cordeiro of the rise in crime rate in the city.

City-Councilors Naomi Carney and Brian Gomes were also at the march and took turns addressing the crowd. Carney decided to speak directly to those in attendance to convince them of the effect she believes a community meeting would have on them.

“The violence, the drug addiction, the opioid deaths have got to stop. So right now its bringing the community together, to make them aware. It takes a village to raise a family and that’s what were doing here today”, said Carney.

Carney went on to connect the issues of violent crime and addiction in New Bedford, citing a correlation between the two.

“You can’t be doing these drugs. Drugs kill, and drugs are leading directly to this violence.”

The pre-march ceremony also honored another unexpected death in the city. The late Brian Grace, whose death is still under investigation, was only 53-years old when left behind his mother and son as result of his February death.

His mother Brenda Grace, spoke to those at the march about her son and the toll it has taken on her and her family.

“He was gone and out of the city for 27 years. He came back 18 months ago, and I buried him four months ago” Grace said.

Brenda Grace may not know exactly what caused her son’s death, and may never find out. What she represents however, is what a family must endure after a loved-one dies by either needle or firearm.