Vigil, march for slain W. Philly teen

Monique Harvey (left), whose son Yasin Harvey, 16, was killed at 62nd and Callowhill, is comforted by her sister and Yasin's aunt, Debbie Anderson, at Sunday's march and vigil. STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Monique Harvey (left), whose son Yasin Harvey, 16, was killed at 62nd and Callowhill, is comforted by her sister and Yasin's aunt, Debbie Anderson, at Sunday's march and vigil. STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Posted: July 17, 2012

DEBBIE Anderson broke from the crowd of about 100 people who gathered in West Philadelphia on Sunday to honor her slain nephew. She placed her palms on the yellow stucco storefront pockmarked with bullet holes from the teen's violent murder, offering up a prayer for the boy and for an end to the gun violence that plagues the city.

Anderson, along with several other relatives of Yasin Harvey, a 16-year-old boy gunned down in West Philadelphia on May 3 in what cops said was a case of mistaken identity, joined the group of faith leaders, community members and anti-violence organizations for the march and vigil. It was organized by grass-roots movement Heeding God's Call to demonstrate against the seemingly incessant violence in Philadelphia that's left 189 people dead so far this year and hundreds more wounded.

"My biggest concern is, when's this gonna stop?" Anderson, 60, said at the end of the vigil, which began outside the Shepard Recreation Center, at 58th and Callowhill streets, and ended with a police-escorted march four blocks west to the scene of Harvey's death at 62nd and Callowhill.

"There's gotta be a solution," she said. "I want to know when this [no] snitching thing is gonna be gone. There's no honor in that."

As the group — which included one person holding a sign that read, "Who sold the gun that killed my son?" and others wearing T-shirts with the simple plea "Don't kill my son or daughter" — marched behind a police cruiser, men hanging on corners and other residents sitting on their porches looked on curiously, some giving nods of support and one shouting a message of solidarity from her second-floor window.

"You've got my 100-percent support!" the woman yelled to the crowd below.

With that, the group broke into song, the words "We shall overcome" and "He's got the grieving mother in his hands" echoing off the rowhouses.

When they arrived outside Koury Grocery — the store that Yasin Harvey walked out of with a few friends the night of May 3 when a gunman pulled up in a car and let off a barrage of shots, fatally wounding the teen — they had a moment of silence and sang hymns. The gunman in Harvey's murder remains at large.

Harvey's mother said that she and her son had moved to Philadelphia in the fall in hopes of escaping the same kind of violence that plagues Atlantic City.

The two were living in a homeless shelter in West Philadelphia temporarily and the teen was just starting to adjust to life in a new city when he was murdered on the street, said Monique Harvey, 44.

"He was ready to go to 10th grade at University [City] High School," the mother said, tears streaking her face. "Most of the time we would just sit in our room together and talk. He really was a good kid."

Contact Morgan Zalot at 215-854-5928 or zalotm@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @morganzalot. Read her blog PhillyConfidential.com.

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