Thursday, September 15, 2016

Lunch Break (9/15/16): Family, community mourns Jonathan Ferrell at vigil on 3rd anniversary of his death [Slideshow]

Posted By on Thu, Sep 15, 2016 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge Kass Otley, who organized the vigil, creates a shrine that mourners gathered around for a vigil. - RYAN PITKIN
  • Ryan Pitkin
  • Kass Otley, who organized the vigil, creates a shrine that mourners gathered around for a vigil.

About 50 people gathered at Marshall Park on Wednesday evening for a balloon release and candlelight vigil in honor of Jonathan Ferrell, killed by then-CMPD officer Randall Kerrick on September 14, 2013 in northeast Charlotte. 

Jonathan's mother Georgia Ferrell and brother Willie Ferrell were in attendance and addressed the crowd just before releasing 160 balloons above Uptown. 

"We are going to lift our heads up, look up high and say, 'We are going to change things here,' Georgia said. "We are going to make a difference. We’re going to stop police violence, we’re going to stop gun violence and we’re going to stop black-on-black crime."

Georgia went on to tell the crowd that "we need the police department," mentioning several of her family members who are police officers and whom she sees as "perfect." 

click to enlarge Georgia Ferrell (left) and Willie Ferrell participate in the vigil. - RYAN PITKIN
  • Ryan Pitkin
  • Georgia Ferrell (left) and Willie Ferrell participate in the vigil.
Willie also spoke to those gathered to mourn, encouraging them to stay positive and to use Jonathan's death as inspiration to reach more people in a positive way in their search for social justice. He announced that the Jonathan A.P Ferrell Foundation will soon be offering an annual scholarship program at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte similar to the one already offered at Florida A&M University, Jonathan's alma mater. 

"I want to thank everybody because it’s an honor to see people still care about my brother three years after his murder," Willie said. "We will continue to uplift people, we will continue to do what we have to do and we will continue to do the right things and the positive things." 

Earlier in the evening, Danielle Hilton spoke about why it was important for her to be there to remember Jonathan, whom she called "beautiful … a work of art as are we all." 

"I’m here with my daughter and with my goddaughter and I’m just here to hold space for Jonathan and for his family and for everyone who has been impacted by state sanctioned violence, by violence that we actually pay for to have done to us," Hilton said. "We’ve done a lot of marching and today we have these beautiful balloons in the air that are sailing ahead of us. I feel like today is a day that we’re mourning together. We’re taking a moment of pause because a neighbor — a community member — was killed, and we all paid for it."

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