Family, supporters make call to action in light of recent deaths in Ypsilanti (WITH PHOTO GALLERY)
Monday, July 07, 2014
By Leslie McGraw
Special to The Ypsilanti Courier
YPSILANTI — More than two dozen people gathered in the parking lot of Parkridge Community Center for a Candlelight Vigil July 5 following the deaths of Keon Washington , 17, and James Mack Juide Jr, 72.
Washington was shot and killed during an argument at a house party on Madison Street, and Juide was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver while crossing Hamilton Avenue with his wheelchair.
According to Tyrone Bridges, Washington’s family opted for a private vigil, although several attendees knew the family or had met him in passing.
“Keon had a future,” said Nathaniel Frasier, Pastor of God’s Grace Ministry of Ann Arbor. Frasier, who had met Washington at church services said his attitude changed once he began hanging with the wrong crowd.
Juide, was a common face among Ypsilanti residents.
“He checked on his friends every day…kept the family together – a genuine good man,” said his niece, Nancy Pinder.
For Juide’s niece, Willie Mae Richards, the day of the accident began much like any other day.
“We were together that morning. We had a breakfast of eggs and grits,” she said. At the time of the accident, Richards was just one block away from her uncle.
“Someone said ‘your uncle’s been run over’ so I ran all the way to where he was. I will never forget how he looked.”
Jeff Lane, who has been an Ypsilanti resident since 2010, was driving when he saw him lying there and got out of his car to help.
“I was driving to work when I saw him laying there: There was a woman rubbing his back, trying to keep him comfortable,” said Lane.
Attendees placed blame on politics and government, apathetic community members, home environments and the perceived lack of involvement from the faith-based community for the recent deaths. Attention was drawn to the absence of local politicians, both candidates and outgoing officials as well as representatives from area non-profits and churches.
Frasier believes that area churches and congregations could mobilize if they set aside differences in belief and came together for the city.
“All these churches…and we don’t have a voice,” said Frasier, “we got a praise and a worship, but we don’t have a voice.”
Bridges, who is a community activist in the Ypsilanti and mayoral candidate, said there are many people crossing the streets every day with wheelchairs, canes, and scooters because of the senior and disabled housing in the area.
“What did they think would happen when they increased the speed limit, knowing the elderly population?” he said.
Leslie McGraw is a freelance reporter for The Ypsilanti Courier. She can be reached at email@example.com.