Residents march through Liberty City to protest shooting deaths

Erick Johnson | 4/24/2014, 9 a.m.
Who was in the casket? It wasn’t Kimouria Gardner. The 17-year-old was buried two weeks ago after being killed by ...
Charles Jackson, executive director of Making of A Chapion organization, holds a press conference with protestors.

“We’re getting killed at bus stops, stores, everywhere,” she said. “Crime will never stop. But what we can do is reduce crime. But we have to start snitching. It takes a community to come together to stop this to a certain degree.”

“It’s easy for people to see this and put it on their camera or Facebook and not call crime stoppers,” Gardner said. “It’s worse because all you do is watch families grieve.”

The march began with a press conference led by Charles Jackson, executive director of The Making of a Champion Youth Program, who gave a passionate plea to end gun-violence before media organizations at an abandoned gas station at the NW corner of 22nd Avenue and 79th Street.

“We’ve had too many innocent young men and women killed in our community,” Jackson said. “Enough is enough. We cannot allow violence to rule this community.”

The conference was then followed by the march, which headed east on 79th street before turning north on NW 17th Avenue past the Dorsey Education Center. From there, the march headed to 65th street where it turned left into the infamous Liberty Square projects, known by many as ‘Pork and Beans.’

Here, 18-year-old Tiarra Grant and 22-year-old Shalaundra Williams were shot and killed in December after someone opened fire while they were in a car with two other women who survived their injuries. Inside the 800-unit complex, a makeshift shrine with candles remains at 14th Avenue and 65 Street, the site where Grant and Williams were believed to have been killed.

During the march, residents emerged from their homes, alerted by the loud shouts and the sight of a casket near their front yard.

“You’ve got to come out of that house and tell police something. You could be next,” said Regina Gardner, stepmother of Kimouria. Regina wants to create a support group for mothers whose children have been killed by gun violence.

The march then proceeded from 13th Avenue to 62nd Street, ending at Brothers Market, where Grant’s life was taken. The march started at 4:30 p.m. and took a total of four hours to complete. Near the end, the shouts from protesters dwindled as fatigue began to take its toll.

But the protesters kept on walking. Many said they were tired from gun violence and not the walk.

“My feet may be tired, but my soul is at rest,” Jackson said.