At a vigil Saturday to remember a 5-year-old killed last week by gunfire on Minneapolis' North Side, the little boy's name was rarely mentioned to the gathered crowd.
While the event honored Nizzel George, who died last week when bullets tore through the wall of his grandmother's home, about 100 people came out on the sweltering summer day not just to mourn the loss of one young life but more in the hope of preventing the future loss of other lives.
"We're doing more than just having a vigil today," said V.J. Smith, president of MAD DADS.
In attendance, along with Nizzel's friends and family, were members of several community groups and advocates who tried to appeal to residents at the vigil to help end the violence.
"The only thing that can stop this is everyone working together," said Roberta Englund, executive director of the Folwell Neighborhood Association. She was signing up vigil attendees to help participate in an anti-violence campaign as part of the association's Fourth Precinct CARE Task Force. The campaign includes plans to knock on every house and apartment door on the North Side. "Enough is enough! No one dies!" reads the group's action statement.
The push comes in the wake of the death of Nizzel, shot in the back Tuesday as he slept on a couch in his grandmother's home in the 4500 block of Bryant Avenue N. He later died at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.
The vigil came the day after it was announced that two teenage boys were arrested Thursday night in Brooklyn Center. One was booked on suspicion of murder, the other on suspicion of weapons possession. Police have said charges against the two could come as early as Monday.
"I'm glad that we got some kind of justice," said Cornelius George, Nizzel's father as he stood in front of the crowd.
Nizzel's death was the second fatal shooting of a young person in the city last month. On June 1, 16-year-old Trequan Sykes was shot in the back in a south Minneapolis alley by another 16-year-old, who has since pleaded guilty.
"If everybody can come together. ... We can do something," said Mary Johnson, 60, a mother who said she lost her only child to violence 19 years ago. She added, "That's what's lacking in our community, that unity."
Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495 Twitter: @stribnorfleet