June 25, 2019 | Robert D. Tompkins (Mr. Robert) | One Detroit Community Blogger

At approximately 1 a.m. on Friday, May 24, a caller told a 911 dispatcher that a shooting had taken place and there was a dead person in front of her house. The call came from a home near Laing and Morang Ave on Detroit’s east side.

Detroit Police with EMS in tow responded to the scene. The investigation found that two men had been sitting in a red Nissan when another vehicle drove by and opened fire.

Photo provided by Mr. Robert

DaMarkkus Washington, Photo provided by Mr. Robert

An 18-year-old man, DaMarkkus Washington, was shot and killed. The second victim, a 22-year-old man was hospitalized. The cause of the shooting is still under investigation. DaMarkkus was a promising student and athlete at Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High School. He would have soon been escorting his date to prom and graduating high school in the coming days.

That was a very violent night. A total of seven people were shot in five different locations that night throughout the city.

Last year, the city reported there were 261 murders in Detroit, down slightly from the year before.

In the city, crime and violence have become easier to track in neighborhoods like Islandview with the use of the Detroit Crime Viewer, an interactive map of crimes reported to police.

The map shows 26 criminal “incidents” in Islandview so far in the month of June, ranging from petty crimes to one case of aggravated assault and no homicides.

On the last Saturday in June for the past 11 years, the Church of the Messiah has led the Silence the Violence March and Rally. The purpose of the event is to shed light on the issues facing young people in America today, specifically gun violence in urban communities.

Image provided by Mr. Robert

Silence the Violence, Image provided by Mr. Robert

The event also focuses on connecting community organizations to likeminded individuals seeking to make positive change in their community and to create Detroit (IN)powerment Village Alliances (D.I.V.A.) across the city. 

Community groups, religious organizations, government leaders, law enforcement and business leaders, as well as residents, gather and participate in this annual event to celebrate community and honor those who have lost their lives to gun violence. 

The march/rally is moving to a more national event with similar rallies taking place in Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, Baltimore, New York and Boston. Local cities participating in the Detroit march include Pontiac, Flint, Highland Park and Ypsilanti.

This national attention helps to keep the light on the victims, like DaMarkkus, whose lives were senselessly cut short. “The goal being to turn this into a movement with an annual rally,” said Pastor Barry.

This year’s event, organized by Myya Jones, takes place on June 29 at Church of the Messiah, which is located at 231 E. Grand Blvd. in Detroit. The festivities begin a 10 a.m. and include the march, a rally, a resource fair and entertainment hosted by DJ GoodB.O.I.

Photo provided by Mr. Robert

Construction site of the future DaMarkkus Washington InPowerment Center, Photo provided by Mr. Robert

In honor of DaMarkkus Washington’s life of service to others and in conjunction with his family’s wishes, Pastor Barry and the Church of the Messiah community will announce the creation of a foundation, a scholarship fund (to which the church  has already donated the first $1,000) and forever rename the local makerspace the “DaMarkkus Washington InPowerment Center.”

DaMarkkus and other male students from Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School in Detroit worked with John Perkins, an alumnus from the school looking to give back to his community, and his team from Legacy Development on the renovation of the makerspace, which is set to reopen shortly after the event.

His involvement in the project opened his eyes to a career in carpentry, which he hadn’t previously considered.  DaMarkkus’ dedication to the craft of carpentry allowed him to broaden his horizons and seek a future he unfortunately didn’t live to see, said Perkins.

Church of the Messiah is all about community. People taking care of people. This event and its mission are no different.

“It’s everyone coming together, standing up for our community, standing up for the rights of children and creating the type of community of which our children can be proud,” said Pastor Barry.

For more information on the event and how you can participate or donate, contact Rev. Barry Randolph at the Church of the Messiah, 231 E. Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48207 or by calling (313) 633-5331.