Flowers bloom near spot where 6-year-old died

August 25, 1991|By Sandra Crockett

It's just a small patch of grass with bright red and pink flowers in the midst of a busy, urban intersection -- one that's had its share of despair.

The newly planted garden blooming at Rosedale Street and Bloomingdale Road in West Baltimore was named "Tiffany Square" yesterday in honor of slain second-grader Tiffany Smith. A sign was posted in her memory.

The 6-year-old girl was murdered July 9 a few yards from the square as she played at the steps of a schoolmate's house in the 1800 block of North Rosedale Street.

Police said that she was caught in the cross fire as two men stood on opposite ends of the block and shot at each other in a turf battle.

Many among the 50 who attended the ceremonies yesterday acknowledged that drugs, and the violence that accompanies them, have been a problem in the neighborhood, but they were shocked by the death of an innocent child.

Residents hope Tiffany's death will spur the neighborhood to unite and take action.

"We are organizing and trying to pull people together," said Bernadette Devone, who works with the new Rosedale Community Task Force. "We want to change attitudes. We want to get drug dealers off of the street."

The task force is working on providing more recreational activities for local children and hopes to start a mentoring program that would pair youngsters with law-abiding adults, Ms. Devone said.

"We have to have recreational activities rather than have children standing on the street corner looking at drug mentors. There are a lot of professional people in the neighborhood," she said.

Tiffany's mother, Charlene Miller, said she wants people to look at the flower garden and "remember my daughter." The girl's father, Troy Smith, hopes the memory of his daughter's death will not fade away.

"It can make a permanent difference in the community, if we stay together like we are now," he said. "It could be a lot safer for the kids."

He advised the children of the neighborhood: "Stay away from drugs. Stay in school. Get an education and do something with your life. And if you see a drug dealer, call someone."

Eric Anderson, 9, who was a friend of Tiffany, had his own advice for parents. "They need to keep their kids safe," he said.

The dedication of the square yesterday was preceded by a neighborhood cleanup by about 40 residents and city crews. It was followed by an afternoon of music and refreshments donated by local merchants.

Rudonna Bullock, who lives in Woodlawn, came to the West Baltimore neighborhood to show her support. "It's wonderful what the community is doing," she said. "This is going to touch a lot of people. Even the drug dealers. They have to have some heart."

Jay Butler, who grew up in the neighborhood but now lives on Garrison Boulevard, said residents "allowed the drug dealers to come in."

"They turned their heads," he said. "That's how this activity came about. They've got to get involved.

"It's not about food," he said. "It's not about music. It is strictly about a little life that was lost."

Ms. Devone said that community pride is making a comeback in the neighborhood. "The good folks can win. We're on our way."

Police have charged Guy Bernard Wilson, 20, with the murder and are seeking another man.

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