Blood on the block
Nayaba Arinde | 1/2/2014, 12:23 p.m.
Blood drenched the streets of Brick City, also known as Newark, N.J., this past Christmas Day. Two teens were gunned down in cold blood, outraging a fed-up community. Three adults were also shot and killed in nearby Irvington, N.J.
Zainee Hailey,13, was slain while taking out the trash. Kasson Morman, 15, was shot as he sat on a porch on Schley Street in the South Ward. Jersey police reported that more than 100 people have been murdered this year in Newark, the highest rate since 2006.
Newark AntiViolence Coalition’s Bashir Akinyele blasted what has been dubbed as Newark’s “Christmas Killings.” “The Newark Anti-Violence Coalition (NAVC) has been warning the people of Newark and America, for over four years straight that senseless violence and Black self-genocide are a public health issue in the African-American community! You have not been listening,” charged Akinyele. “But now that Newark has experienced five murders on Christmas Day 2013 (two of the victims are Black children), and Newark’s murder rate has reached 100, Black people and concerned citizens must take a stand against the pandemic disease of senseless violence and Black self-genocide plaguing the African-American community.”
“I lost my mom to gun violence, so I know the unspeakable heartache the family is experiencing,” announced mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries, as he rallied with the frustrated community on Monday, along with interim Mayor Luis Quintana and mayoral candidates Ras Baraka and Anibal Ramos.
“The time has come to go beyond mere verbal outrage,” said Jeffries, the former assistant attorney general. “Cruel, senseless violence is the challenge of our time and must be addressed head-on.”
At the same time, one of the city’s legendary leaders, Amiri Baraka, has been hospitalized, and his son, Newark City Councilman and mayoral candidate Ras Baraka, is one of those at the helm of this latest anti-gun violence protest. Until he took a leave to run for mayor, Ras Baraka was the principal at Central High in Newark, where Morman went to school.
Next to him at Sunday’s press conference was Morman’s mother, Alnisa Reeds. “I just want to say I want justice for my son,” she said. “My son was a good child … He didn’t deserve this.”
Meanwhile, Abdul Frazier, 14, is in critical condition. He was sitting on the porch with Morman at the time of the shooting.
“We’re going to begin to patrol the streets ourselves,” said Baraka. In addition to demanding that more cops be put on the streets, Baraka also had a message for errant youth with weapons: “Put your guns down today … We’re here to ask you to do that.”
On Christmas Day, the same day the teens were murdered, three men were also shot to death. Outside Slick’s GoGo Bar on Nye Avenue in Irvington sits yet another street memorial of candles, flowers and tributes. Just after midnight on Christmas morning, Pierre Clervoyant, 24, Woodley Daniel, 32, and Mushir Cureton, 27, were gunned down there, while two others were wounded.
This past Saturday night, Jose Alfaro, 39, was shot and killed in his home on Mount Prospect Avenue. As of press time, there have been no arrests in any of the shootings.