PATERSON, NJ - Just over 24 hours after the Paterson City Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the violence that again gripped the community this past weekend, leading to the deaths of a 43-year-old delivery driver and a 13-year-old boy, residents had a chance to be heard Tuesday.
Following a moment of silence punctuated by candlelight, Council President Martiza Davila put the body’s regular business aside to immediately open public session, with more than 15 residents speaking out, many sharing their frustration that again families were left mourning loved ones.
One of the first to the microphone was meeting regular Ernest Rucker who was afforded extra time on the clock to speak on behalf of Save the Village, the community non-profit he helps to oversee. “It’s a nightmare every weekend, our children are still dying,” Rucker lamented.
Next up was Tishelle Jackson, herself a victim of gun violence, whose nephew, K’Zure Credle, was found dead behind 133 Harrison Avenue on Sunday. While the investigation continues into the manner of the boy’s passing several sources with knowledge of the situation have said he, like Petra Rhoden less than 48 hours earlier, was struck by a bullet.
Having been shot five times and left for dead by an ex-boyfriend in 2018 Jackson knows too much about the devastation violence is causing in Paterson. “Our city can’t thrive like this,” she told TAPinto Paterson, “something has to be done.”
“It’s time for curfews,” Jackson said. “No one should be on the streets, they are only out for one thing, and our kids are getting caught in the middle.”
“Paterson shouldn’t stand for it.”
K’Zure, known as “Kay Kay” to his family and friends was “a good boy,” Jackson said, adding that he loved playing video games and “making beats,” a hobby that led a joke between the two of them that he was “trying to be Puff Daddy.”
“He stayed up late making songs, so happy,” she said. Jackson liked the hobby, she offered, not just because it could provide him with a future career, but, more importantly, because it gave him something “productive” to do. Music, she said, runs in the family, “it was in him.”
“He was playing outside, being a kid,” she said when asked if she had been made aware of any of the circumstances of his death.
The lack of opportunities for young people to keep busy, and safe, in Paterson was a regular theme throughout the public comment period, with several calls for additional support for recreational activities, additional outreach by the faith based community, and, as suggested by community activist Zellie Thomas, a plan that does more than “put people in jails and cemataries.”
“We can end gun violence, but not with overtime or hotspots,” Thomas said referring to previous efforts and comments made that some of the increased violence is a result of lack of police resources locally. Arrests, he said, “only change the players, not the conditions.”
Spending part of her three minutes speaking directly to the public as opposed to the dais where the council members sit, usually frowned upon but perhaps accepted because of the gravity of the situation, was Antastay Sia Marrow, 30, who shared her belief that the solution lies in finding ways to “lift each other up.”
“Show more love, more gratitude,” she urged before turning back to the legislators and asking them to “tell us how we can help you.”
Stopping to talk at the request of this reporter Marrow offered her final thought that “we are all brothers and sisters, we are supposed to love, not hate.”
“If we all stick together,” she added confidently, “we will make a positive transformation.”
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