Saturday, September 10, 2005

Stopping the violence and staying positive

Aaron Spivey turned 27 last month. His twin brother, Corey, did not.

Corey Spivey was fatally shot in an early-morning melee a year ago in the same 500 block of Park Avenue where Aaron was buying food at Kennedy Fried Chicken Saturday (Sept. 10, 2005).
A few doors down the block, Priscilla Phillips recalled finding bullet holes the next day in the windows of her shops, Braids Beauty Boutique.

"Three bullet holes went through three different sections," she said.

Things have since quieted down on the block, where three late-night eateries had been attracting hundreds of people after closing hour at local clubs. The only reminder of the violence there is a scrawled memorial on a wall near where Corey Spivey was shot.

Corey Spivey's death was one of nine homicides in 2004. This year, the city has been stunned by a rash of 14 violent deaths.

Stephanie Alexander, whose brother, Gavin Smith, was killed in 2002 and whose daughter, Aieshia Johnson, was paralyzed in 2001 by gunfire, wanted to hold a "Stop the Violence" march and motorcade Saturday, but could not get official approval.

Instead, about 25 people met at Rushmore Playground for a rally, then a dozen cars and vans formed a motorcade to the 800 block of Richmond Street, where they held another rally.

Participants included members of People's Organization for Progress, mayoral candidates Sharon Robinson-Briggs and Bob Ferraro and former Mayor Richard L. Taylor.

POP state leader Larry Hamm gave a litany of the kinds of violence that must be stopped: Domestic violence, violence in the streets, anti-gay and lesbian violence, police brutality, the violence of war and that suffered by economically deprived people such as those suffering last week in New Orleans.

"We must stop the violence of poverty," he said.

Despite the screaming headlines about homicides this year, Hamm did not think the turnout for the rally was poor.

"It takes time to build up," he said, describing the movement as in its "nascent stages."

Back at Kennedy Fried Chicken, employee Manzoor Ahmed said, "It's been quiet."

Phillips said more police presence is needed. Aaron Spivey agreed. "The first thing they should start doing is show more police officers on the street," he said.

The Spivey family will spend a quiet weekend, remembering Corey's passing with a family cookout.

We'll stay positive," his brother said.

--Bernice Paglia

KEYWORDS: violence