Community leaders, residents march against crime through Liberty City

Erick Johnson | 6/23/2014, 11:29 a.m.
Father’s Day meant a trip to South Miami-Dade’s Graceland cemetery for Sean Sams. That’s where his son, Marquis is buried. ...
Despite many unsolved cases, residents joined community leaders on a pre Father’s Day march through Liberty City.

Father’s Day meant a trip to South Miami-Dade’s Graceland cemetery for Sean Sams.

That’s where his son, Marquis is buried. Marquis Sams, 20, was killed in Little Haiti in April when a driver pulled up and opened fire on him and Wilneka Pennyman,19, before fleeing the scene.

When he was alive, Sams would join his son on trips to ice cream parlors for tasty desserts on Father’s Day. But on Saturday, Sams joined religious leaders and some 40 residents in a pre-Father’s Day march through Liberty City to keep the memories of gun-violence victims alive long after the headlines and evening newscasts have stopped.

Sams fought back emotions to join the march, but remained strong to call attention to gun violence that claimed his son’s life.

“We need to keep our kids safe because we’re killing our future,” he said.”They’re our number one priority.”

The walk started with a prayer by Rev. Dr. Billy W.L. Strange Jr. of Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, where the march originated. Escorted by police officers, the march included members of the Nation of Islam and Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office of Katherine Fernandez-Rundle. Sponsors of the Walk for Justice include “A Mother’s Hurting Heart Inc., Grieving Hearts, Regina Gardner, and Charles Jackson’s The Making of a Champion organization.

The demonstration was the third of its kind to be held in Liberty City since March. Last month, organizers held a pre Mother’s Day march that started in the same location. Saturday’s march along NW 62nd St. was similar to the previous one, but this time protestors did not trek through the Liberty City Housing projects where 18-year-old Tiarra Grant and 22-year-old Shalaundra Williams were shot and killed in December. The complex is known to many as The Pork and Beans projects.

Community leaders urged residents to step up efforts against gun violence, saying marching alone won’t solve the problem.

“The time for just marching is over,” said Patrick Muhammed of the Nation of Islam. “The real issue is follow up. What we are going to do is have a plan of action. Otherwise, it would be fruitless to just march. Our main action is to unite (the community).”

Anthony Green, a father of two, said he used to live in Liberty City but decided to move to Miami Shores because it was safer to raise a family.

Green returned to his former neighborhood to join protestors as they shouted “enough is enough” as they passed spots where victims were killed. Most of the cases are unsolved as residents remain unwilling to “snitch” or come forward as eyewitnesses. Many say marching won’t make a difference, but Green is not discouraged.

“It shows Miami that we’re willing to do at least something,” he said.