Families crowded around a frosted chocolate cake in Hibbs Park to sing “Happy Birthday” to Erica Green and Adrian Jones — two Kansas City area children who were murdered.
Green, known as “Precious Doe” was killed in 2001 when she was three. She would have turned 25 this yea. Jones was seven when he died in 2015.
Family members and community organizers spoke Saturday afternoon to about 30 people huddled under an awning at the park near East 59th and Spruce Ave.
Green’s brother, 26-year-old Larry Sanders, drove from Oklahoma to attend the event.
He said there isn’t a day that goes by when he doesn’t think about his sister.
“To know how much she has affected others in her short life, especially people who’ve also lost someone, it means a lot,” Sanders said standing near a poster of his sister.
He said seeing the community rally to stop violence gives him hope. But little appears to have changed in the area since Green died more than two decades ago.
Aishah Coppage, whose 8-year-old son Montell Ross was shot and killed in 2016, agreed.
Coppage stood near a group of mothers who passed around a microphone and spoke about their grief.
“You’ve got easy access to guns,” she said. “I can go on social media and see a kid with a military-style gun. And that’s the problem. Trust me if they had no guns stuff like this wouldn’t happen.”
“Never in my life did I think this would happen. These were good kids. They didn’t want any trouble.”
A silver pendant with a picture of Montell hung from Coppage’s neck, and a framed picture of LeGend Taliferro, a four-year-old boy shot and killed in 2020, was tucked under her arm.
Charron Powell, LeGend’s mother, sat at a crowded table filled with pictures of young children who had been killed.
Powell said listening to other members of the community who have remained strong after losing a child has given her hope.
“A lot of us, we can’t talk through out situation. We’re angry. Most of the times this stuff happens when people are mad. If we can help each other talk each other through this I think we can stop the violence,” she said.
Powell sought counseling after her son’s death and encouraged others at the event to as well.
Teresa Perry, director of Share the Love House, helped organize the event.
She said connecting people with resources was her goal.
She also gave out scholarships to six young people in the community looking to continue learning about trade jobs ranging from music to health care.
“I feel like when people have the adequate housing and stuff happens, they won’t want to fight each other,” Perry said. “If you give everybody what they need from the start, hopefully it will help cut down on crime.”
Perry has held memorials for children killed in the community for nearly 20 years.
In the next few years, she hopes there will be a permanent memorial remembering young victims at Hibbs Park.
Joshua Jackson, a former member of the Kansas City Public School Board, said he’s raising money to build columns and enshrine the names of children under the age of 12 who have died as a result of violence in the city.
“If we were to look at all children killed due to violence in this city, we’d have a memorial that this park couldn’t hold,” he said.
“These children didn’t even make it to 13, they deserve to be remembered.”