Philadelphians are fired up. An estimated 2,500 people turned out Friday for the Hoodie March in Center City. Churchgoers donned hoodies yesterday in honor of Trayvon. In the 20-plus years that I've called this city my home, I've never seen Philadelphians as riled up about a single murder as they are in this case. But it gives me pause that we don't direct the same level of outrage at some of the incidents that take place closer to home.
I'm not saying don't grab a hoodie and head to the rally tonight at LOVE Park. I plan on stopping by myself. And I'll be wearing a hoodie, too. However, as we agitate for justice for Trayvon, let's also remember the many local victims who've recently lost their lives in senseless displays of recklessness.
Take the case of the beautiful ballet dancer from Bulgaria struck by a hit-and-run driver in the wee hours of March 18. Only 22, Polina Kadiyska had left her homeland to study at the Rock School for Dance Education. She had worked a side job and was leaving a Chinese takeout about 4 a.m. when she was struck at Broad and Ellsworth streets by a car that blew through a red light. She died two days later.
On the same day that Kadiyska was struck, the life of a Good Samaritan in North Philly was about to end as well. Rafael Santiago Delvalle was inside La Familia Mini Market in North Philly when a masked gunman burst in and engaged in a gunbattle with the store's owner. After his friend was wounded, Delvalle picked up the store owner's weapon and took off after the gunman.
No doubt, Delvalle was acting on adrenaline and didn't realize he was being followed. An accomplice shot Delvalle in the back and reportedly stood over him as he shot him in the head. Devalle died at the scene. He was only 26.
Meanwhile, authorities are still investigating the case of the two teenagers gunned down recently while joyriding on a stolen all-terrain vehicle on 9th Street near Cambria. Police say Dexter Bowie, 17, and Johnathan Stokley, 18, were shot with at least 30 rounds from an AK-47 assault rifle.
An AK-47. Neither were innocents, but they were both just kids.
I could go on and on.
But back to Trayvon.
His death a month ago hits us hard because it's a reminder of how vulnerable our loved ones can be, especially when they're racially profiled, as it's believed Trayvon was. I have a 19-year-old nephew who wears hoodies to class at Drexel University, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'm scared that someone may target him. He could be Trayvon. Lots of folks, including the president, feel that same nervousness. "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," President Obama said.
But let's also not forget that Kadiyska, the ballerina from Bulgaria, could have been our friend. And Delvalle, the Good Samaritan, might have been our next-door neighbor. And the two bullet-ridden young men on the stolen ATV could have been our kids' classmates.
Not to take as much as a Skittle away from Trayvon, but aren't these people's untimely deaths worth our getting worked up about as well?
Contact Jenice Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-854-2223, or follow her on Twitter at @JeniceArmstrong.