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Community vigil for Gregory Willis Jr. at Lincoln Houses

DAA'IYA L. SANUSI Special to the AmNews | 5/27/2011, 3:40 p.m.
Community vigil for Gregory Willis Jr. at Lincoln Houses

On Tuesday, May 17, the Circle of Brothers convened a community of support for the family of the late Gregory Wil- lis Jr. and his mother, ShaSha Price, in front of the building where Willis' body was found on Jan. 23. Prayers were of- fered and leaflets were dis- tributed that read, "If this was your brother, your son, your friend, wouldn't you say some- thing?"

Circle of Brothers Co-Founder Brother Abdul-Kareem Muhammad opened the afternoon's vigil with prayer and libation, along with Sister Monique Indigo Washington of the Healing Drum Collective.

"What we need to know is that this young man was a jewel in our midst and we are here to appeal to the community to come forward with in- formation. It could have been an accident, it could have been foul play- we don't know. But somebody knows," declared Muhammad.

The Rev. Georgette Morgan- Thomas reminded the crowd, "Every child belongs to us and we must continue to recognize that we are responsible for all of our children. We can't turn a blind eye- we have to stand up. Those thugs belong to us, they have the same blood running in their veins that each and every one of us has and

it will [continue to] spill if we keep ignoring the children who are lost."

Residents of the building where Willis' body was found walked by the family, friends and officials attending the vigil. Some scurried past before the group walked around the perimeter of the houses.

"I school my child every day, but we don't talk enough to our children. We talk on cell phones, spend time smoking and hanging in clubs when we should be home nurturing our families. Our community can- not stand for this," said Mau- rice Cummings, aide to Assemblyman Keith Wright.

Students in attendance, friends of Willis', were a strong representation of the young people who face the peril of violence and drugs every day.

Also present were representatives for Councilwoman Inez Dickens, State Sen. Bill Perkins and Patricia Herman, president of the Lincoln Houses Tenants Association, who said, "Imagine if this was your son or daughter that this happened to, this is a sad and tragic situation. Somebody needs to say something."

The mother of two children lost to violence and co-founder of Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E., Jackie Rowe-Adams, called out to the people watching the gathering from their windows to do something- do anything, as she said, "The life you save might be your own."

As the people looked down, they may have noticed Willis' mother standing in a quiet, peaceful pose as she reflected upon her son's life. "He was

real caring, quiet- kind of like me," she said. "He was al- ways with me, he would play games and he loved music. He planned to be a music teacher.

He was a really good kid and a good teenager, I never had to argue with him or yell at him, maybe send him to his room a few times, but he was really quiet and kept to himself. He planned to attend college in Connecticut."

"If anyone would like to call anonymously, it will be kept confidential. We just want to know what happened," implored Leslie Wyche, aide to Councilwoman Dickens.

Those who have any infor- mation about Willis' death should call (800) SPEAKUP, the offices of Assemblyman Wright at (212) 866-5809, the Community Board 11 of- fice at (212) 831-8939 or the Circle of Brothers at (646) 399-6835.