Crime vic­tims ‘not just sta­tis­tics ... th­ese are peo­ple’

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY GE­ORGE HUNTER The Detroit News ghunter@de­troit­news.com (313) 222-2134

On a re­cent sunny Satur­day af­ter­noon, small groups across Detroit met to deal with the fall­out from homi­cides both in­fa­mous and ob­scure.

The num­ber of killings in Detroit has hov­ered around 300 an­nu­ally in re­cent years, down from about 400 a year a decade ago. But the city still av­er­ages about six killings per week, leav­ing be­hind bro­ken fam­i­lies strug­gling to re­cover.

With­out fan­fare, groups meet reg­u­larly through­out the city to con­sole each other and seek an­swers about their loved ones’ deaths.

“Th­ese are not just sta­tis­tics. They’re not num­bers — th­ese are peo­ple,” said Pas­tor Barry Ran­dolph of the Church of the Mes­siah on Detroit’s east side. “They have fam­i­lies, friends, loved ones.”

Ran­dolph hon­ors hun­dreds of Detroit homi­cide vic­tims by read­ing their names from an ever-grow­ing list dur­ing an an­nual “Fallen An­gels” cer­e­mony.

“There’s an African proverb that says if you say the name of a per­son out loud, then they will live on for­ever, so we lit­er­ally say the names of ev­ery sin­gle per­son, and we have hun­dreds of peo­ple here,” Ran­dolph said as he gave a tour of his church’s “memo­rial chapel,” where dozens of homi­cide vic­tims’ pho­to­graphs line the fur­ni­ture and walls.

Among them are vic­tims whose killings were well-pub­li­cized, in­clud­ing Paige Stalker, a 16-year-old Grosse Pointe Park res­i­dent who was killed Dec. 22, 2014, on Detroit’s east side, and Tiane Brown, a Wayne State Univer­sity Law stu­dent whose body was found in Oc­to­ber 2013 in a field near the old Packard plant.

Oth­ers whose killings did not re­ceive as much at­ten­tion are also hon­ored, in­clud­ing Essence Clan­ton, who was killed try­ing to break up a fight; Lori Stan­ford, a gospel mu­si­cian who was killed by her hus­band; and Ser­ena Car­son, whose body was dis­cov­ered by her 13-year-old son. This day, Ran­dolph wel­comed two crime vic­tim groups that use his church for reg­u­lar meet­ings: Fallen An­gels and Moth­ers of Mur­dered Chil­dren.

An­drea Clark, who started Moth­ers of Mur­dered Chil­dren af­ter her 30-year-old son Dar­nell Perkins was fa­tally shot at a club down­town in April 2011, said homi­cides have ram­i­fi­ca­tions that can last for years.

“You have fam­i­lies still go­ing through the pain; many of them are suf­fer­ing from post trau­matic stress dis­or­der,” Clark said. “That can give way to want­ing to be a vig­i­lante, or it can take sev­eral other turns. There are a lot of emo­tions, and we have to keep those in check.”

Rose Ford, a mem­ber of Clark’s group, said her 20-yearold son Dar­rlye Miller Jr. had a bright fu­ture un­til it was snuffed out Aug. 15, 2015, by a gun­man who wanted his $2,400 Cartier glasses.

Miller was a stand­out bas­ket­ball star at North­west­ern High School who earned a schol­ar­ship to Tif­fin Univer­sity in Ohio.

“He was my baby,” Ford said. “It af­fected me to the point where still to­day it’s hard to re­ally go on and to live my life like a mother is sup­posed to. I still feel guilty for liv­ing my life to­day. I was never pre­pared to bury my son; I was pre­par­ing my son to bury me. A mother should never have to bury her chil­dren.”

The same day the Moth­ers of Mur­dered Chil­dren met, an­other group on the city’s west side passed out fliers seek­ing in­for­ma­tion about the Aug. 24, 2011, shoot­ing death of Al­lan­tae Pow­ell, a star Os­born High School foot­ball player who was about to start his se­nior year.

Par­ents of homi­cide vic­tims, in­clud­ing Al­lan­tae’s fa­ther, Deon Rushin, say while the pain sub­sides with time, it never goes away. Nor do the con­stant ques­tions.

“I can’t move on,” Rushin said. “I will never un­der­stand why it hap­pened. Who can ex­plain how some­one can have the gall to kill a kid?”

Ge­orge Hunter / The Detroit News

Friends and fam­ily of slain high school foot­ball star Al­lan­tae Pow­ell pass out fliers seek­ing an­swers about the 2011 drive-by shoot­ing.

Clark

Ford

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