BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Saprina Wilkins is a mom with a message.
"People have just gotten callous to what's going on, and it shouldn't be that way. People need to speak up, not be afraid,” she said.
It's been almost one year since her son, James Mitchell, was murdered in Buffalo.
He was just 22 years old when he was shot on Weston Avenue.
Wilkins says she knows there are people out in that neighborhood who know things that would help police solve the crime, and she wants those folks to start talking. Wilkins hopes sharing her message will make its way to the streets and hopefully make a difference here in Buffalo.
"Going through the first year of Christmas, New Years, and you know…he passed right before his birthday. So it's...it's really hard,” she said.
Now, Wilkins wants to make a difference. As the mother of a homicide victim in a murder yet to be solved, she wants to personally tell those with information to speak up.
"A lot of times you hear 'what goes on in this house, stays in this house,' and 'snitches get stitches,' and all this other stupid stuff that they have listened to over the years, and it has been engrained in their minds, even as a child,” Wilkins said.
She does not blame police. In fact, Wilkins feels so many of Buffalo's murders will remain cold cases until people lay down the guns and start talking.
"If you don't have anyone coming forward to say anything, then it's really hard. It's really hard to do your job,” she said.
Retaliation is not in her heart. Wilkins says it requires more effort to stay bitter than to pray and find silver linings. The silver lining for her is taking is strength and using it for something good.
"The main thing is people need to start opening their mouths and speaking out about what's going on in the communities, in their neighborhoods,” she said.
Wilkins also wants parents of homicide victims to know they're not alone.
"He'd be the first one to call me on the holidays and talk to me. And I miss that. I won't hear his voice again,” she said.
Wilkins says James loved playing drums. He was attending college while encouraging his friends to also enroll, and his younger siblings looked up to him.
"I just believe that James would have been a standup guy,” she said.
Wilkins hopes to start a foundation that involves other parents of homicide victims so that they can be a support network for one another and start doing work in the community to combat the fear that exists over going to police with information.
In the meantime, Buffalo police say they continue to follow leads and are still investigating James Mitchell's murder.