Tonight beginning at 6 p.m., the Valley of the Silent Men Social Aid and Pleasure Club will lead SilenceIsViolence and the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force in a Walk for Peace through the Central City neighborhood.
The walk will begin and end at 2220 Jackson Avenue, close to Van McMurray Park, which is where 2-year-old JaShawn Powell was killed in January. Powells father, Danny Platt, later confessed to murdering his son because of a dispute Platt was having with Powells mother over child support payments.
Earlier this year while I was researching the story, Thou Shalt Not Kill, which profiled Reverend John Raphael and his organization, Yes We Care http://yeswecareno.com/, a group concerned with curbing violent crime in the city, I met Tameyka Powell, JaShawn Powells aunt. Tameyka Powell is a 26-year-old mother of five, who explained to me the burden of JaShawns murder on her family. Daniella Powell, JaShawns mother, had been in and out of the hospital, attempted suicide several times, and, eventually, left New Orleans to get a fresh start, relocating to Arlington, Texas. Tameyka said her 4-year-old son, who had been JaShawns best friend and cousin, continued to have behavioral problems at school.
Tameyka admitted she too had tried suicide, despondent over her nephews death and the circumstances surrounding it, but was now starting to recover because of her relationship with Reverend Raphael. She said Raphael, who had not previously known the Powells, contacted and counseled her family following the murder when they had no one else to turn to.
Aint no minister, no preacher that since this tragedy happened, that came into our lives, but Reverend Raphael, Tameyka told me.
After Raphael began working with the Powells, Tameyka joined his church, and Raphael says she has been continuously bringing in new members. I spoke to Raphael today and he said he would be attending tonights walk. Im sure at some point, he will stop and offer up a prayer for JaShawn Powell and his family.