What began as the protest of one woman burgeoned into a demonstration at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven Thursday evening, when about 40 people gathered to express frustration at the Island opioid epidemic — and the drug dealers who fuel it.

Among them was Elizabeth Jones, the mother of a young man who overdosed this week. She held a hand-lettered sign that said “1/30/89, Joseph A. Jones, #noshame, overdosed, 7/30/18.”

Demonstration was fueled by an outpouring on social media following the overdose. — Steve Myrick

Overcome at times by emotion and the condolences of the protesters, she said her son died alone, the victim of heroin addiction.

“He touched a lot of people,” Ms. Jones said. “I don’t want another young boy or girl to lose their life.”

Her friend Dolores Borza began the protest alone a day earlier. She said at it was the first time she had ever done anything like it. She returned to Five Corners with her sign the next day. Word went around on social media, and at about 6 p.m. relatives and friends, members of the recovery community and others joined the gathering.

“It needs to be addressed, it needs to be heard,” Ms. Borza said. “We’re losing way too many people, we need to do something else. The law enforcement people should go after the people that are making it, and the people who are selling it.”

Mike Sisco said he attends recovery meetings and is saddened by empty chairs of people who succumbed to addiction.

“There’s got to be change,” Mr. Sisco said. “People are standing up for something as a town and as a community. That’s pretty special.”

“Addiction, both drugs and alcohol, has been killing people,” said Marina Lent, who joined the protest in support of the Jones family. “We reached a threshold where people have to do something different. It’s not working.”

The gathering received many honks of support from drivers passing through the Five Corners intersection