Candlelight Vigil to be Held at City Hall Plaza in Honor of Slain Pride Academy Teacher Latrena May

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EAST ORANGE, NJ – The City of East Orange, Purple R.E.I.G.N., and East Orange Citizens United for Change have partnered to hold a Candlelight Vigil in memory of 27-year-old Latrena May, who was murdered last Friday, May 1, 2015, following a domestic dispute with the father of her child.

The vigil, which will be held on Friday, May 8, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. in front of City Hall, 44 City Hall Plaza, East Orange, NJ, will help raise awareness of the alarming rate of domestic violence homicide in diverse communities of color such as East Orange, where 90% of the population is African American. Vigil attendees will include Mayor Lester E. Taylor III, members of the East Orange City Council, Essex County Freeholder Board President Britnee Timberlake, and representatives from the East Orange Police Department Domestic Violence Response Team. All are welcome to attend.

May, a seven-year teacher at Pride Academy Charter School, was allegedly gunned down after she flagged a patrol officer in the middle of an argument she was having with Andre Higgs in front of her home on Tremont Avenue, according to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. Officials state that Higgs was then shot by the responding officer. He has been charged with murder and weapons offenses in relation to May’s death.

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In a recent New Jersey study, rates of intimate partner homicide varied by race and ethnicity, but Black women between the ages of 25 and 44 were 3.5 times more likely to be murdered than women of other races within the same age range. Additionally, African American (black) women are at a far greater risk of experiencing the most egregious forms of domestic violence when compared to other groups.

Mayor Lester E. Taylor III said the city and its residents must stand in solidarity to prevent future domestic violence fatalities.

“As a community, we have the unique ability to be a catalyst for systemic change,” said Mayor Taylor. “We are committed to working with community advocacy groups such as Purple R.E.I.G.N. to implement a continuum of services that engage all of our shared resources – public safety, education and social services – to break this vicious cycle of violence.”

Founded in 2008, Purple R.E.I.G.N. has provided multi-disciplinary empowerment services and preventative strategies to over 1,000 victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“Domestic Violence is a crime that betrays love, ends trust, and destroys lives. Seventy-five percent of domestic violence homicides occur after a victim has left the relationship or at the point of separation. The heinous nature of Ms. May’s tragic murder is an accurate depiction of the reality of far too many victims,” says Community Activist Asia D. Smith, founder of the East Orange-based Purple REIGN Social Services Agency and national domestic violence advocate. “As we struggle to come to terms with this insidious epidemic, it is imperative that we continue to implement culturally-specific safety strategies and raise awareness of the various forms of abuse, and the fatal consequences of domestic violence.”

For more information, please contact Connie Jackson, 973-266-5153, ext. 5339 or connie.jackson@eastorange-nj.gov.

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