Clergy members, activists and community members gathered Thursday to mourn the death of 15-year-old Jorevis Scruggs, who was fatally shot by police earlier this week. Police say the teen was shot after he pointed a gun at an officer who gave chase as Scruggs jumped out of a suspected stolen car.
About three dozen people attended the vigil, placing teddy bears and “Black Lives Matters” signs in the residential alley where Scruggs died near St. Louis Avenue and Bacon Street. They lit candles, prayed and called for changes in community-police relations.
The interfaith group held hands near a laminated photo of Scruggs tacked to a utility pole as Rev. Robert Scott led a prayer. Many wiped away tears.
“There’s a family that has lost a son, a brother, a cousin, a nephew,” Rev. Scott said.
“I am sick and tired of going to prayer vigils for young black men and women who are being shot by police. We're sick and tired of having to come together and deal with the same thing over and over and over and over and over here in the St. Louis region.”
“There are some who just look at this as another day on the job and it would be my prayer, oh God, that you will temper their consciousness. So that they can understand that you don’t just shoot anyone cavalierly and then go on about your business.” – Rev. Robert Scott
“If the economic conditions were a level playing field, we wouldn’t have to worry about this young man being in a stolen car because he would know that by the time he turns 18, he can get one of those … Because the opportunity would be there. See, we have to look at this thing as a broad spectrum. Not just a murder in the street. There’s a reason why our kids do what they do. Because you have not leveled the playing field.” – Beverly Jones
“There are times where I want to raise the question ‘Why?’ This is our lament. This is our pain. A mother is hurting somewhere. Siblings are hurting somewhere. An uncle came down. He couldn’t even stay because he’s in so much pain.” – Rev. Robert Scott
“I was here the day it happened. I saw that young man running for his life and shot in the back … This is not my first vigil. This is not my first time standing in an alley mourning a black life and what’s happening around here is there is no regard for humanity … The officers pronounced him dead and threw a sheet on him before the ambulance even arrived.” – Myron Winston
“I heard Syreeta [Myers] say once: VonDerrit [Myers] wasn’t perfect. But he deserved to grow up. How many of our kids make mistakes? … I’m not sure that enough of us are outraged. That enough of us have shed our tears. Because the blood of our children calls out from the ground again.” – Rabbi Susan Talve
“We need to grow a generation that sees a future. Not a generation that doesn’t think they matter, doesn’t think that they have a future. We have to lament the future that this young man lost. And maybe didn’t even think that he had.” – Rabbi Susan Talve
“Whatever happened that caused this encounter – Was it really worth risking bullets in this neighborhood? Was it worth the little kids that could’ve been playing in their yard … and could’ve been hit by a stray bullet? Was it really worth that? Is a car worth that? Are there material possessions worth that kind of recklessness? We have to get outraged about the devaluing of life.” – Rev. Traci Blackmon
“We charge you to build relationships with folks that don’t look like you. That don’t act like you, that don’t think like you, that don’t worship like you. Build a coalition. That’s how we change things. Put aside our differences. And understand that my child is as valuable as anybody else’s.” – Rev. Karen Anderson
“What they say is you have the right to remain silent. I say today: You have the right not to remain silent. We have the right to lift our voices in protest. We have the right to cry out in lament. We have the right to cry out in disgust at a system that proclaims that we are all free and equal and we are not.” – Rev. Karen Anderson