During a candlelight vigil last evening for Tiffany Smith, the 6-year-old girl struck down in the cross-fire of a West Baltimore gun battle, a discordant note intruded.
Using a bullhorn offered him by an organizer of the vigil, Reginald Johnson, a neighbor of the slain girl, dismissed the event as a forum for rhetoric and another campaign appearance for incumbents seeking re-election in this year's municipal elections.
"All we are hearing are speeches from politicians wanting attention," Johnson said. "What they are saying means nothing. We need solutions to problems that are in this neighborhood all year long."
He implored the politicians to make return visits to the community after the publicity generated by Tiffany's death has died down.
During the vigil, which lasted from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., about 250 people marched a short distance from the intersection of North Avenue and Rosedale Street to 1804 N. Rosedale St., where Tiffany was shot. They chanted "Stop the Killing" as they marched.
Tiffany lived in the 3000 block of W. North Ave., a short distance from where she was fatally shot. She was gunned down July 9, caught in the crossfire of a shootout between two men.
Police have charged Guy Bernard Wilson, 20, of Severna Park, with first-degree murder and with using a handgun in the commission of a felony. A District Court judge ordered Wilson held without bail at the Baltimore City Detention Center. The second man remains at large.
Last evening at the Rosedale Street residence, the Rev. Willie Ray, an organizer of the vigil, stood on the steps and, using the rTC bullhorn, asked the crowd not to weep for Tiffany but for the little ones who still live in this violent world.
As shouts of "amen" and "that's right" came from the crowd, Ray declared his determination to make the community a peaceful one again.
Councilwomen Sheila Dixon and Agnes Welch, both D-4th, urged onlookers to get involved in the area's four community groups to help them rid the neighborhood of drug traffic and violence.
"I could not attend Tiffany's funeral because I was so angry," Dixon said. "It is our fault. It is the community's fault that Tiffany is dead."
Marcus X, a member of the Nation of Islam, urged a united effort in order to conquer the tragedy of Tiffany's death. "We must unite on the principles of what is right and proper so that our little sister's death will not be in vain," he said.
The vigil ended with a prayer for unity, power and safety for the children.
Michael Freeland, who lives a block away from where Tiffany was shot, said the vigil was a good gesture but more is needed. "As a memorial to Tiffany, it seems proper to rename Rosedale Street as Tiffany Square," he said.