Memorial for the women killed at 2021 Westside Reunion becomes a call for information on the shooters
The one-year anniversary of the still-unsolved shooting of seven women at a local block party is Sunday
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – According to Brother Kevin Muhammad of the Grove Street Justice Fund, “Snitching is not when you see an activity as heinous as what happened here a year ago. Where women were shot and murdered. Their families (will) never see them again, unable to bring closure and you saw what happened. And you uphold injustice in your own community until it happens to somebody in your own family, and then you’re like ‘Well, why don’t nobody say nothin’?”
One day short of a year since seven women were shot, two of them killed, at the Westside Reunion on Grove Street, the community holds a memorial to not only honor the memory of the lives lost on that day, but to beg for someone to come forward to get justice for those families.
The Westside neighborhood is not a community in peril.
It is suffering from a world of hurt.
Beyond the deaths of Labrecia Dews and Keniqua Hughes, the families of the victims want justice, and that hasn’t been easy to get.
Demetrius Bridges, Dews’ best friend before her death, says, “It’s traumatic for us to be … even just to go outside. Because you don’t know who to trust right now. You don’t know who did what. It’s difficult for all of us. I still have those issues going outside at night. It’s really difficult because you don’t know who did what.”
On September 25th, 2021, seven women were shot in front of their own apartment in a drive-by.
364 days later, no one has stepped up to say who did it.
In a memorial for Dews and Hughes, the community is angry with the lack of information leading to an arrest.
Muhammad: “I understand you being scared because you got to live in the community. But, damn! Come on, ya’ll… Y’all know how to do it! You know how to tell them something without letting them know you told! We do it all the time! We know how to drop a dime on somebody and get up on out of there!”
Betty Maddox-Battle, the founder and executive director of G.R.I.E.V.E., took it one step further. “It’s a shame that you have to put out a reward to get people to talk in reference to getting information. A price should never be put on a life, so that’s why it’s important for the community to come up and tell something and let people know what happened to these young ladies.”
There is a $21,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooters in this case.
But leaders in the community question what is more important to those who have information in the case: the money or possible retaliation from the perpetrators?
Maddox-Battle: “These families need closure for their loved ones in order for them to move on. Losing a loved one is never easy. When one suffer, we all suffer. Economically, emotionally, financially. What affects one directly, actually, affects us all indirectly.”
Chattanooga Police Chief Celeste Murphy attended today’s memorial.
Her showing up gives the community a little light that the department still sees this case as a priority.
Bridges: “It means a lot to know that Chief Murphy hasn’t given up. It gives us a lot of hope to know that she’s still working on it when things are really going unsolved around here. It gives us a little bit of hope to know that she is trying her best.”
The anniversary of the shooting comes up on Sunday.
Chief Murphy told me that it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get justice for the victims’ families. She told News 12 “We’re going to figure out who you are and we’re going to hold you accountable for what you’re doing.”