Saturday, January 10, 2004

Killings theme at funerals


Two young black men last of 2003, first of 2004 to die

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Two black men in caskets: Both sons. Both fathers.

Both shot to death on Cincinnati's streets - one the 75th and final homicide in last year's 26-year high, the other the first to die in 2004.

Allen Shannonand David Brown were laid to rest this week, with moving tributes at both their funerals and calls to end the killing so that other young black men don't die in the streets as they did.

On Friday, those who came to mourn Brown looked to his 16-month-old namesake for hope. It's for him, a minister said, that the killing has to stop.

Amen, the crowd said.

Brown was shot to death in daylight last week. Even as Brown's family eulogized him Friday, Pele Bradford, 25, of Kennedy Heights, was indicted on murder and weapons charges in the shooting. Police said Bradford got jealous when he saw Brown talking to his girlfriend.

Delicia Eddington sobbed as the Rev. Damon Lynch III talked about her fatherless baby son. She stood next to Brown's casket and talked of the man she said treated her better than others had. They went to church, something Brown didn't do often, on New Year's Eve. He was dead two days later.

"We had plans,'' she said. "We wanted to be a family.''

His cousins spoke about the last time they saw Brown. They all said he talked about changing his life. He'd been out of prison since August after serving nearly a year for robbery and drug possession.

Lynch preached to the young black men in the crowd. Preached to them to stop killing each other. He urged them to remember when black people rallied around black power and black love, not drug-dealing, turf wars and exacting revenge with bullets.

Brown's service was an hour long, with 200 people in the Garr funeral chapel in the West End.

About 1,000 filed down the aisle at New Friendship Baptist Church in Avondale on Wednesday to remember Shannon, the stepson of former assistant police chief Ron Twitty.

Shannon's friends wore T-shirts bearing his picture and: "Loved by many; hated by few'' and "Tha Good Die Young.'' Twitty talked about God intervening in people's troubled pasts. Shannon, too, had been in trouble with drugs.

And he talked about how life can end in a blink.

Twitty, his wife and Shannon's five children spent New Year's Eve together. Shannon was killed two days before as he waited outside the Bond Hill house where three of the children live. The kids talked about their dad coming to their games. He fussed at them, one said, when they behaved badly.

"You had the parenting thing right," Twitty said, looking skyward.

"We cannot allow what is becoming commonplace in Cincinnati to become the norm," he told the packed church. "It is not normal for parents to bury children."

Then Lynch quoted rapper Tupac Shakur, shot to death seven years ago, about too many funerals, too many tears and praying for better days.

Amen, the crowd said. Amen.

E-mail jprendergast@enquirer.com




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