Almost a month after the senseless shooting deaths of 1-year-old Marcus White Jr., who was killed at an East Hills community picnic with his aunts; 16-year-old Delasia Detrieuille, who was killed in a housing complex when confronting two boys who allegedly had robbed her of a gun she was trying to sell earlier in the day; and John Haas, a jitney driver who was killed while picking up a charge in a McKeesport housing complex because his vehicle was mistaken for a rival gang member’s, the community will come together to take a stand against the acceptance of senseless violence in their neighborhoods at Pittsburgh’s Juneteenth Stop the Violence & Community Awareness Event on June 29 at Stage AE from 1-4 p.m.
“Because of the number of homicides in the community, this situation is dire. Consequently we believe Black people need to police themselves and learn to have some self-respect and respect for the people in their communities,” said William Marshall of B. Marshall Productions, the host for the event. “The (event) is designed to initiate that growth and also help in the healing process of family members of the victims of violent crimes.”
The Juneteenth event will include more than 20 community organizations coming together to present the supportive resources and services available, along with motivational speakers, live entertainment, which includes The Legacy Arts Project, Jasiri X, 3 Talented Girlz, students from the Abby Lee Dance Company of the reality show “Dance Moms,” and more. Also, Democratic and Republican Pittsburgh Mayoral candidates will be given an opportunity to state their plans to address this growing problem.
“You need a collective group to bring about some effective change,” said Marshall.
Reverend Richard Freeman Jr., Resurrection Baptist Church pastor and president of the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network, one of the organizations scheduled to participate, said his organization felt the importance of participating because “there are too many of our children dying day after day…we have an issue with guns being in our neighborhoods when they shouldn’t be.
“As a theologian, I am informed spiritually and biblically. A lot of our problems would be eradicated if we address these problems. We keep playing this game of Pookie needs a gun to protect himself. Pookie ain’t protected with a gun. We need to police our own communities with the help of the police. At the end of the day, if we don’t do it, it won’t get done.”
Amongst the issue of the increasing epidemic of Black on Black violence, is the Black community’s “no snitching” code, which, among other factors, is preventing many witnesses from coming forth with information.
Although “Baby Marcus’” murder happened in the early evening, with many witnesses, no one has been charged with his death.
When it comes to the “no snitching” code, Marshall said it is a concept created in the criminal atmosphere or street life among involved individuals to not tell on each other when they are arrested or questioned for crimes they may have committed or have information about. He said when it comes to normal citizens in the Black community many do not come forward because of a lack of trust with authorities. He cited cases such as Jonny Gammage, Jordan Miles and recently Leon Ford.
“For these reason, many people in the Black communities refuse to co-operate with a system they feel is unjust and more oppressive to Black people than is helpful,” Marshall said. “When is the last time you heard about the Police shooting or killing a White motorist or beating a student in White communities?
“The community has a responsibility for what’s going on in the community and once we take that responsibility it will stop. Men have to take a responsibility of being men in their communities and we have to teach our children to be responsible.”
Along with the other activities of the event, there will also be a Community “Difference Makers” program, which will highlight those individuals committed to bettering our neighborhoods daily, and a commemoration portion featuring a roll call with family members of homicide victims from 2012 and 2013.
Marshall said he invited the families of the victims because “when people do something they don’t realize the effect it has on other people. People need to see what you do doesn’t just effect one person.”
He added that the Black community has become numb to the violence, and that it is time to change the mentality that this is normal. “We’ve gotten to the point where we see the names, and the names don’t mean anything anymore.”
On June 25, Marshall will receive a proclamation from the Pittsburgh City Council recognizing his efforts. He has requested that the “Difference Makers” also be included. Also, Congressman Mike Doyle has sent a letter to President Barack Obama, requesting his presence, but there is no word if he will attend.
(For more information about the event or to get tickets, call 724-205-9376 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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