Tonya Moone never thought that a warm day in May, when her son took her daughter to a neighborhood park for some brother-sister bonding time, that it would be the last time she would see her son, Rashad, alive.
On May 5, 2012, Michael Rashad Moone Parrotte, then 17, had arrived home from his job at a West Mifflin McDonald’s and decided to take his then 10-year-old sister to Hunter Park, in Wilkinsburg, to let her play. He watched his sister play, while he sat on a bench with three friends, texting on his iPhone. While on the bench, four men approached him, admiring his phone and his watch. They shortly left and he called his sister over to take his dying phone home and put it on the charger. After she left two of the four boys returned, one with a gun, demanding the phone. According to what witnesses have told, Moone tried to explain that he didn’t have it; a fight broke out; and he was shot twice in the chest. He died shortly after arriving at a local hospital.
Now, almost two years later, Moone is still seeking justice and the conviction of her son’s killer, along with justice for all mothers who have lost a child to violence. On Feb. 8, Moone along with family, friends and neighbors, gathered for the unveiling of the Penn Avenue and Montier Street billboard, from the Prevent Another Crime Today (P.A.C.T.) Initiative, with her son’s photo and the offer of a $5,000 reward to anyone with information leading to a conviction.
“They killed my son and for what? Over a phone he didn’t have. They basically killed my son for nothing. And the thing of it is, there was a whole park full of children. Everyone knows who killed my son is (what’s) the messed up part about it. Parents of Wilkinsburg told their children not to say anything. People call me on the phone and say, ‘we know who did it,’ but will not go to the police,” Moone said. “I understand the street code, I understand living in the ghetto, that’s why I fought so hard to get this money. Be a voice, do the right thing. I’m speaking for my son who can’t speak. If you’re really Rashad’s friend, come forward.”
Moone said since her son’s death, her life has changed dramatically. She said she is on medication, is depressed, finds it hard to focus on daily activities, cannot work like she used to and now goes to therapy. She also said her daughter, now 12, who did not see anything, but heard everything, and her son, now 21, are even affected.
“I’m not even living my life anymore; it’s like I’m in a dream, looking at someone else’s life. He had a 4-month-old daughter, who is now two years old. Every time she sees pictures scroll across the computer, she says, ‘that’s my daddy’ and puts her hands up because she wants her dad. She won’t ever have a father,” Moone said. “Everyday is a struggle, it’s a struggle for me to just exist. I love my other children, but I just did not want to be her anymore; I wanted to be with my son. There’s a hole in my heart and it will never heal. Even once we catch this killer, it’s never going to get better.”
Moone said the suspected killer, whom she did not name, and many of his friends, are currently in jail on an unrelated charge, which is a perfect time for people to come forward.
Toni Allen, a friend of the family, said at the unveiling, “There were witnesses in the park…we’re not naive, we know who murdered Rashad. We want the community to know you’re not safe. You may think you’re protecting these murderers by not turning them in, but eventually the same murderers will come back and murder you… There is a difference between being a witness and being a snitch.”
Since her son’s death, Moone has established the Rashad Moone Foundation and “The Rashad Effect” campaign, which advocates the taking back of the community and changing the “no snitching” street code. She is also in the works of establishing “The Rashad Moone Beat the Odds” scholarship. Parrotte died a month before his high school graduation from Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12,University Preparatory School.
Moone said she is also in the process of getting yard signs that read, “Be the Voice.” She said, “We’re going to change these people who don’t want to say anything. If they have these yard signs in their yard, they’re letting people know, ‘I’m a voice.’ So if these little criminals come down the street then they’ll know, ‘you better go somewhere else with that crime because these people are going to tell.’ We’re not going to keep on protecting these murders; keeping the murder’s secrets. We’re taking back our community.”
She added that her initiative is not just about her son, but also about all the mothers who have lost a child and have not gotten justice. Once she gets justice for her son’s murder, she will move on to help the next mother.
Troi Baldwin, a supporter and mother who lost her son, said, “We need to get these killers off the street so our kids can play.” Baldwin lost her son Maleek Grissom in June 2012, when he broke up a fight in East Carnegie. She said she met Moone, when Moone came to her home after Grissom was killed and she has been there ever since, even through the trial and conviction of her son’s killer, Lamar Alston.
When it comes to the Black on Black crime that is running rampant through the streets of the Black community and that ultimately took her son’s life, Moone said, “People need to open their eyes. We, as a race, a people, are killing ourselves and following the plan. This is what they want us to do. We kill ourselves way more than the KKK.” She added that it is going to take the community “taking care of home,” and religious leaders and parents coming together. “We can’t keep on doing our own thing; if we unite then that’s what will make this work.”
While she is frustrated with the lack of people coming forward, Moone said she still has faith that someone will step up. She pleads, “Don’t wait until my situation is your situation. Death comes to everyone; it doesn’t have a name. I’m not gonna be quiet. I’m not gonna stop until they stop and the killings are lowered.”
(Anyone with information is asked to call 1-866-644-2882 or visit www.facebook.com/TheRashadEffect.)
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