A small group gathered at Coleman Hill Park on Saturday for a candlelight vigil to show concern about recent violence in Macon, but one person there knows painfully that its not a new phenomenon.
In April 1994, Faye Alexanders daughter, Renona Billue, was killed by a man who stabbed her during an argument. Two months later her son, Qucell Walker, was shot to death in a robbery. Her sisters killer was caught but her sons case remains unsolved. Alexander grew up in Macon but has lived away for 30 years until last year, when she moved home specifically because of her concern over the continuing violence in her hometown. She said it seemed like every time she came for a visit, she was hearing about a new murder.
I feel like we can reach out to some of the young people and direct them down the right path, she said. We can show more leadership and give them a more positive outlook on life.
The vigil, attended by about 20 people, was organized by the community outreach groups Hoodfessional and Macon One, as well as Feline Inc., a marketing company.
Gerome Ryans, founder of Hoodfessional, said he believes having events like the vigil can make a difference.
It can do a lot of good to show people everybody is not violent, he said. We can show people that there are people who care.
He said the name of his group originated from a friend when he was growing up in a poor neighborhood. People were always telling Ryan that he behaved like a professional, and his friend called him hoodfessional.
We want young people to know that even though you may live in the hood, you can still act like a professional, he said.
Several friends and family members of SharBora Shy Daniels attended the vigil. Daniels, 18, died in June after being struck in the head by a stray bullet as she talked on the phone inside her fathers home. The shooter has never been identified. Daniels friends and family wore T-shirts with her photo with messages that asked for justice to be done.
She was a sweet and very nice person, said Tommitrise Collins, girlfriend of Daniels brother. It wasnt her time to go.
Rebecca Grist, Bibb Countys new solicitor general, spoke to the group and said she plans to make stopping domestic violence a priority of her office, which prosecutes misdemeanor crimes.
She urged people to reach out to anyone who may be in a domestic violence situation and help them get out of it.
Just know that you are not alone, she said.
The vigil ended with release of helium balloons etched with R.I.P. and a heart.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.