Vigil goers 'are tired' of bloodshed BALTIMORE CITY/BALTIMORE COUNTY

November 15, 1992|By Arthur Hirsch | Arthur Hirsch,Staff Writer

Cold wind nearly snuffed the flame on the 7-foot-tall candle that drips red and carries the message, "STOP THE KILLING."

The candle mock-up has followed the trail of violence through the city for a year, and yesterday it stood in front of a school where a cleaning woman was stabbed to death in a classroom last month.

Maybe 45 people huddled around the candle in front of Calverton Middle School, as crowds have gathered at the scene of killing after killing in Baltimore.

"We want to send a message that we're tired," said the Rev. Willie Ray of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in Reisterstown. "We're tired."

He shouted into a small bullhorn and raised his arms, as he has done at these sidewalk prayer vigils for years.

He called on the people of the city to pull together, to take responsibility for teaching children the value of life and community.

"It's crazy what's going on," said Erich March, who helped organize an anti-violence rally last year. "There are reasons for dying -- God and country, defending your family. But stolen goods is not a reason to die. Money is not a reason to die."

Earlene McFadden, 57, was cleaning a classroom about 5 p.m. on Oct. 30 when she surprised a man who had apparently broken into the school. He stabbed her repeatedly in the chest and throat and ran out of the building. No arrests have been made.

Police believe the intruder may have been after money that schoolchildren had raised in a candy sale. Mrs. McFadden was )) attacked in the room used as a collection point for the fund-raiser.

But the money, about $1,000, had been locked away in an administration office.

"The truth is we shouldn't be standing here today," said Mr. March, general manager of the March Funeral Home. "Mrs. McFadden should be home fixing dinner."

Mrs. McFadden had worked for the school system for 18 years. Family members have said she always enjoyed her job.

The president of her union, Glen Middleton of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 44, urged city officials to increase security at school buildings. He said schools are patrolled only during the school day, not after 5 p.m. when cleaning crews are still working.

"We need safe schools for everybody," said Mr. Middleton. He also urged schools to adopt a system of "team cleaning," so custodians do not work alone.

Mrs. McFadden's husband, Leroy McFadden, said his wife had expressed concern about recent car break-ins and burglaries at the school.

City Councilwoman Sheila Dixon, a 4th District Democrat, told the crowd that she and other city and school officials failed to respond to complaints made more than a year ago about security at Calverton Middle School.

bTC "When [the killing] happened, I said, 'I'm partly responsible for this. The principal and the administration is partly responsible for this,' " Ms. Dixon said. "Does something else have to happen before we do something about it?"

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