100 turn out against violence in Homewood Community Peace March
Faces stared out from T-shirts, posters and picture frames, accompanied by names with their years of birth — and death. Many were under 40; one a baby.
Jamar D. Hawkins, 1982-2013. Marcus L. White Jr., 2012-2013. Susan Sidney, 1989-2014. Hosea Davis, 1976-2014.
“I'm tired of this — I'm tired of all the killing,” said Hosea Davis' mother, Connie Moore.
Moore and nearly 100 others gathered in Homewood on Friday afternoon for the sixth Homewood Community Peace March.
“It's a symbol of hope. It's a symbol of power,” said the Rev. Eugene Blackwell, pastor of the House of Manna Community, which organized the first march in 2009.
Blackwell, whose wife is president of the Homewood Renaissance Association, said the event began as a “prophetic event,” in which his organization invited the community to pray for peace with them.
“It's uplifting to organize around something joyful when so often we organize around the loss,” he said.
Three people have been killed by gunfire in Homewood since the start of this year. Two men were ordered last month to stand trial in the fatal shooting of Deion Nesbitt, a security guard at a bar. Thomas McClellan, 53, was gunned down on Frankstown Avenue just before noon on a snowy January day. Most recently, John Scaine, 23, of Braddock was shot and killed March 4.
“I hate this. I want it to stop,” Homewood resident William Everett said. “Why? Why the violence? Why the violence every day?”
Toddlers in strollers, grieving mothers, teenagers who lost friends, preteens on bikes and supportive friends, family and strangers wended from Westinghouse Academy to the intersection of Homewood and Frankstown avenues.
“No justice, no peace” was the constant cry.
The Friday march was organized by Pittsburgh's Bikes Up, Guns Down organization, which aims to prevent violence by steering youths back to doing things they should do — like riding bikes.
Adoration “Pooh” Boyd, a member of the group, said that when Blackwell told her in January that he had decided 2014 would be his last march, the decision to become involved “was automatic.”
“I said, ‘I'm going to take your torch and carry it,' ” Boyd said. “We need this.”
The event last year was marred by the slaying of Leonard Young, 33, of Larimer. Young was found about 8 a.m. April 18 in the parking lot of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in Larimer about an hour before and a mile from the start of the march.
No one has been charged in Young's killing, a common theme among the victims remembered by the marchers.
Signs demanded justice for 15-month-old “Baby Marcus” White, who was struck and killed by a bullet at a family picnic in the East Hills. No one has been charged.
Wynona Hawkins-Harper said her son's killing likewise remains unsolved a year and a half later. Jamar Hawkins, 31, was fatally shot after buying lettuce at a Giant Eagle store in Penn Hills.
“How do we stop our kids from killing each other?” she asked.
Shawn Dalton of Homewood marched with her 11-year-old daughter, Lisa. She said she does not let her daughter play outside on her own, but she wanted her to see the hope brought on by the march.
“I want to show her how we're moving things toward making changes,” Dalton said. “She can see that a lot of things need changed.”
Bringing residents from Homewood and beyond is part of the change, Boyd said. She said she hopes to continue the tradition of the peace march.
“Only a little bit of good people stand up,” she said. “There are a lot of good people, but the violence has pushed them indoors. They've turned their backs. If we can get all the good people together, we can outweigh the evil.”
Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She canbe reached at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.