Outside a broken-down house at the corner of South Capitol Street and Brandywine Avenue in Southeast D.C. on Wednesday night, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray urged more than 100 people crowded under umbrellas and ponchos to turn their grief at the one year anniversary of one of D.C.’s most fatal shootings, into action.
“Let’s use this as a constructive experience to try to stop the violence,” he said. “I hope we get to the day when we have not one murder in the city.”
Around him dozens of young people milled about, wearing t-shirts and keychains in memory of the friends they lost almost exactly one year ago at that same spot: Brishell Jones, 16; DaVaughn Boyd, 18; William Jones III, 19; and Tavon Nelson, 17. They stayed behind while the victim’s families joined Gray and other community members at a nearby church for community conversation and dinner. Despite the rain, they preferred beer to proclamations.
If they had joined their friends families, they would have heard Vincent Gray pledging that those killed on March 30 of last year did not die in vain. They would have heard Police Chief Cathy Lanier promise to “work harder.” And they would have heard Brishell Jones’ mother, Nardyne Jefferies, ask the community to join her in a single task in memory of her daughter.
“We have to take our communities back. We need to take our families back,” she said, adding that such a task started with the smallest of gestures: a smile or a greeting in the street.
Jefferies was one of several parents recognized Wednesday night by Mayor Vincent Gray with a proclamation marking the anniversary of the shooting. Norman Williams, whose son Jordan Howe was killed eight days before the South Capitol Street shooting and whose death was linked to that of the others, was also recognized.
“We need to identify what is happening within our communities that’s affecting gun violence,” he said. “It could have been any of us, any of our sisters or brothers that were taken last year.”
Earlier Wednesday, Councilman David Catania introduced legislation in memory of those killed in the South Capitol Street shooting.
Photo by Dallas Lillich