Hartford Homicide Victims Are Remembered During Good Friday March, Vigil
By STEVEN GOODE
April 02, 2010
When Pamela Joiner got to the corner of Main Street and Albany Avenue early on Good Friday, she looked among hundreds of crosses for three names: Jumar Joiner, Shawn Linton and Anthony Joiner.
But the names of her son, his best friend and her brother weren't easy to find among the 294 crosses,each carrying the name of a victim killed in violent crime in the city since 2000.
Pamela Joiner was one of more than 100 people who attended a prayer vigil and anti-violence rally Friday organized by Mothers United Against Violence. She has been to many such events since her son was shot to death in 2008. She said she goes on the chance that one young person might see the heartache she's suffered and choose not to use a gun to settle a score or protect turf.
"Somebody could look at me and what I go through and it could help," she said.
Friday's event, unlike others the group has organized, didn't focus on a single victim, nor was it held at the site where a life was lost. This time there were the crosses, meant to give visual evidence of the ongoing cycle of violence in the city.
That's why the Rev. Henry Brown, who has been visiting the loved ones of homicide victims for years and leading the vigils, chose to bring the crosses to the Capitol, where they were carried by the marchers and laid out on the north lawn. Brown wants city and state leaders to see the numbers and the effects of homicide on survivors.
One of the marchers Friday was the Rev. Deborah Davis, whose son Philip was shot and killed in January.
"You never think it's going to happen to you until it happens to you," Davis said.
A former director of economic development in Bloomfield, Davis said she hoped to use her government experience to work with legislators to get more support for victims' families and advocate for ways to keep guns out of the hands of young people.
Another marcher was Koisha Knight, who asked Brown if she could keep the cross marked with the name of her cousin, William Googe III. Knight, who said she had several relatives represented among the 294 crosses, told Brown she wanted to bring the cross to Googe's mother.
"He was a college sophomore, just in the wrong place at the wrong time," Knight said. "He wasn't supposed to become another statistic."
Not all of the marchers were grieving family members. Hartford Deputy Police Chief John Horvath, who was off duty, came at Brown's request. Horvath said he supports the group's efforts and sees the vigils as an opportunity to break down the mistrust between police and residents who might be able to help them solve a homicide or prevent one from happening.
"There's a learning curve to trusting the system," Horvath said.
After marching south on Main Street and west on Elm Street, participants reached the Capitol, where they listened as speakers talked about reducing violence, getting guns off the streets, organizing neighborhood groups and providing support for offenders.
Brown said he was happy with the turnout and the message that was delivered, even though he was disappointed that Mayor Eddie A. Perez and more members of the clergy did not attend.
And he had this message for legislators who had the day off for Good Friday and didn't see the rows of crosses spread out on the lawn.
"We're coming back as many times as it takes," he said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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