In a packed room at Urban Specialists headquarters, a large group of people gathered to remember and discuss ways to stop senseless violence. It was a significant dialogue days after the tragic death of 13-year-old Shavon Randle.
“This is a heavy, heavy day,” Pastor Omar Jawar told the standing room only crowd.
Community members, young and old, spoke about their emotions and concerns.
“She lost her life over nothing,” said Marshaun Burnett, an 11-year-old from Oak Cliff. “Over pettiness.”
Some parents came looking for solutions, knowing the Lancaster teen’s kidnapping and murder, over an alleged drug dispute Randle had nothing to do with, is affecting so many people across the community.
Randle’s Aunt, Deandra Bradley said, "I felt disappointed. I felt angry, lost confused.”
The meeting was intended to be a safe space, to focus on healing and ending a community problem. Nearly everyone in the room admitted to being impacted by violence in some way.
Jenin Ferrond and Pat Ford live in the Kessler Heights community, where the bodies of Randle and Michael Titus were found in a vacant home. The neighbors would like to see more resources for teens.
Ferrond explained, "We need something for these kids to do. There is nothing for our older kids to do. Nothing. They have nowhere to go. No type of education during the summer. All they can do is hang out in the streets.”
As community organizers focus on addressing senseless violence, the circle of support is helping Randle’s grieving family.
Randle’s mother, Shaquna Persley, grandmother, siblings, step-father, and other relatives joined the meeting.
Persley said, “I just want to say thank you for everything that everybody has done, so far.”
The community members recited a pledge against violence at the end of the meeting. Organizers say they hope the pledge will help move the community forward in a positive direction.