BY ANDREAS BUTLER
More than 300 people, some standing, packed New Life World Ministries’ sanctuary in Daytona Beach last Saturday for the funeral of Ji’Ron Jeffrey Dent, also known as “Boobie.’’
Dent 17, died on March 7 from a gunshot wound suffered two days earlier during an incident that took place in the Madison Heights subdivision.
Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry and his older brother, Commissioner Patrick Henry, spoke at the funeral.
“I come as the mayor and an African-American male born and raised in this community. I am committed to making this community a better place. I have received phone calls and e-mails from those outside this community asking what they can do to help,” Henry said.
“Today, I ask you all to do what you can to make positive changes in this community and in the lives of young people.’’
‘We should be outraged’
Both Henrys gave the family words of condolence while condemning violence and encouraging education.
“We cannot allow the tragedy of this circumstance to go in vain. Go to school and graduate, live life with a purpose, and do not drive cars that look a certain way but do not belong to you. The purpose of education is to teach people how to handle power. When I was working in education, kids often said they had no power. You do have power. You have the power of choice, hope and God,” added the mayor.
Echoed Commissioner Henry, “More young Black men die in one day in America than U.S. forces in a war zone. We should be outraged. Young Black men are an endangered species. Gun violence is an infectious disease in our community.’’
Mentoring programs starting for boys, girls
Out of Dent’s tragedy is born a program for young Black men and teens.
The program is being started by Commissioner Henry and will be housed in the Derbyshire area with 15 young men to begin with.
“I challenge every Black man to take two young Black men and mentor them no matter where they are. If we start to show these young men love, maybe they will show love for themselves,” responded Commissioner Henry.
Community activist Norma Bland, who is serving as a spokesperson for Dent’s family, is also starting a mentoring program for young girls. The program is in the developmental stages and she is taking names for those who wish to attend.
“We are looking for those who may have had brushes with the law or are going astray but want to change their life rather in employment or education. I also ask all young men in the wake of this tragedy to pull their pants up, stick their chest out, walk proudly and clear the smoke from their heads. You do not have to die,” commented Bland.
Family mourns for two sons
Dent’s family asked the community to stop the violence and help young people in life.
The teen was the cousin of Rayshad Mitchell, a 23-year-old who was found dead on Verdell Street from a gunshot wound in December. No arrests have yet to be made in Mitchell’s murder.
“We are sorrowful. We are grieving. We are not retaliating. We are standing strong. We asked that everyone let the police do their jobs. We ask that others do something to stop the violence and help youngsters with their lives. We will fight for our loved ones. Their legacies will live on in this community,” said Jackie Cord, Dent’s aunt.
Suspects in jail In Dent case
Reports indicate that Dent was riding in a vehicle with John Headon when the vehicle was fired upon from occupants of another vehicle.
Both vehicles were reported stolen and the incident stemmed from an argument over the ownership of the vehicle that Dent was riding in according to reports.
Four young men were arrested in accordance with the shooting. Tijuan Isaac, Enrique Chapman, George Green, Jr. and Nelson are all behind bars.
Both Isaac and Chapman are facing first-degree attempted murder charges, according to police reports. Isaac was identified as the shooter and Chapman the driver, reports state.
Headon was arrested on Monday and charged with violation of probation but police say that his arrest has nothing to do with the shooting. Headon had fled the scene by the time police arrived to the shooting in the Dent case, according to police reports.
Dent is survived by his mother Katrina Cord, father Jeffrey Dent, two brothers and four sisters.