Mount Vernon – A little of over a hundred people made up of family of victims, Community Leaders, Concerned Youth, Concerned Residents, Faith Leaders, Elected Officials and Black Law Enforcement gathered and stood together on the steps of City Hall, Saturday to demand justice for the loved ones who were killed on the streets of Mount Vernon and their murders have gone unsolved.
The group is known as the Mount Vernon Families For Justice, they also expressed their disappointment with the MVPD and how they have handled homicide cases, Wednesday night at the City Council Meeting. Homicides in Mount Vernon jumped from two in 2015 to eleven in 2016 with at least six of them still unsolved and family members in the dark about the investigation into the death of their lost loved ones. Justice for all the unsolved homicides, a well-trained homicide unit, better support for the families and the need of Commissioners that understand police concepts and methods to keep our community safe, top the list of demands that were announced at the rally.
Nazarene Duncan, mother of Wilbert “Junior” Francis who was shot 14 times and killed June 10, 2016 and founder of MAMAiAM- Mothers Actively Making A Difference, Wilfred and Linda Dennis, brother and sister of Kyle “Skeet” Dennis who was murdered at Arts on Third, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016 and the mother and father of 26-year-old Kevin Shaw Jr., of the Bronx, who was shot and killed in the passenger seat of a car coming from Sue’s Rendezvous, Wednesday, June 24, 2015, were among the family members who shared their story and unsatisfactory experience with the MVPD and their lost loved ones investigation.
“I’ve been quiet for awhile preaching that Black Lives Matter, but for the first time and I’m not losing the spirit of who we are, but its a fact to me Black Lives don’t matter in Mount Vernon, not at all,” a very emotional Kevin Shaw Sr said at the rally. “I haven’t heard from nobody, not one time, nobody, no police officer, nobody never called me, since my son was murdered up here in Mount Vernon. I’ve been up here 15-20 times… I ain’t get one call, never since June 24, 2015 [18 months later]. Every time I come to Mount Vernon they say they are going to call… I can’t even get my son’s possessions from that night.”
Other speakers at the rally, included Rev. Jeffrey R. Wheeler (Pastor of Mt Calvary CME – The Promise Church), Retired Detective Anthony Mitchell (MVPD Former Deputy Police Commissioner), Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., (Co-Founder of the Westchester Coalition of Police Reform and son of slain Marine and retired Westchester Correction Officer Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., who was shot and killed by the White Plain Police Department on Nov. 19, 2011), Planning Commissioner Shawyn Patterson-Howard, the Chaplain of the Grand Council of Guardians and Damon K. Jones (NY Rep of BLEA-Blacks In Law Enforcement of America).
While elected officials Councilmembers Yuhanna Edwards, Roberta Apuzzo, Marcus Griffith and André Wallace and City Clerk George Brown also stood in support of the families at the rally, they were asked not to speak by the families to keep the rally from becoming political. Members of Wespac and the AntiRacism Alliance and several other organizations from throughout Westchester County were also in attendance.
As is usually the case, other media outlets who were present for the beginning of the rally did not stay and cover the rally in its entirety, so once again the only place you can see the entire rally is here in Black Westchester Magazine in the two videos below.
The Mount Vernon Families For Justice are asking for your help in their fight for justice for their lost loved ones and ask all to call your representatives and let them know what is happening in Mt Vernon:
In a statement to The Journal News/lohud, Mayor Richard W. Thomas said the city remains “committed to using every resource available to us to bring justice to these families.”
“This is much larger than solving violence in one town. The joblessness and hopelessness that leads to endemic violence is a public health crisis that all corners of the community must address. Today’s rally affirms our call for a greater investment into public safety. It also emphasizes that we must all come together — elected officials, parents, educators, clergy and the business community to give our young people faith in a bright future.”
Neither Mayor Thomas nor Police Commissioner Ronald Fatigate will return Nazerine Duncan’s calls for help, she tells BW.
“I want Mount Vernon police to lose the politics and handle these cases accordingly,” Duncan said. “We have several unsolved murders and all murders should be treated equally and not based off of character, color or creed.”
The Mount Vernon Families For Justice promised they will be very active in their quest for justice in the murders or their loved ones and all other homicides in Mount Vernon moving forward, including becoming very active in the upcoming election.
[Editor’s Note: While writing this story there was another shooting in Mount Vernon, seven shots fired on Sandford Blvd, between South Seventh and South Eighth Avenues. One man was taken in an ambulance. No further information was available. Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more on this developing story.]