'They Had The Right To Live' - Rally, Vigil Against Killings
Latina Bilbro was killed in June 2006 outside the Redfern Houses in Far Rockaway, just a week after celebrating her 18th birthday. Brandon Bethea, 15, was shot May 17 at the Redfern Houses. Tyrese Johnson, 16, was slain on Beach 21 Street on May 19, also in Far Rockaway, in what police say was a case of mistaken identity. Those are just some of the names of area youth whose lives have been snuffed out by gun violence, and some locals are saying that they are too many.
Sayahword Ministries, family members and area residents took to the streets on the afternoon of June 21 to bring attention to the deaths and to hold a candlelight vigil in memory of the murdered Rockaway youth.
"These are our children. They had the right to live," shouted Pastor Barrielevia Evans through a megaphone as the march proceeded from Far Rockaway High School, on Bay 25 Street, to O'Donohue Park, at Seagirt Boulevard and Beach 17 Street. "This is Far Rockaway. These are our streets. No more violence."
One of them was Sharon Johnson.
"We need you to come together on behalf of our youth. We need you to speak up," said Johnson, the mother of Tyrese Johnson. "The man that killed my child, there was a witness who needs to come forward. The criminals are winning."
Following the speeches, a candlelight vigil was held in memory of the Rockaway youth.
The march started out with approximately 150 people, including about 100 young people. They were met at Beach Channel Drive and Mott Avenue by a conglomeration of bike and SUV clubs who, since the death of Bethea last month, have been adding their support to stopping the violence.
Also taking part in the rally and vigil was Tineen Harris and Ice Bethea, Brandon Bethea's parents; Latina Bilbro's mother, Vernell Britt; and Tyrese Johnson's brother, Sayquan, and his aunt Tajuana-Pitts.