Mom's 'Ride for Justice' supports gun violence victims
Detroit — Twenty-one months after Tawanna Rankin's daughter was fatally shot in Detroit she can’t give up hope that one day her killer will be brought to justice.
Jada Rankin, a Sterling Heights High School student was leaving her grandmother’s home on the 14300 block of Ardmore after a birthday party about 2 a.m. Oct. 16, 2016, when a vehicle sped down the street, authorities said. That prompted Rankin’s brother to warn the driver to slow down.
The motorist stopped, opened the car door and fired gunshots into the crowd, hitting Jada who died at Sinai-Grace Hospital. She was 15 years old.
Tawanna Rankin, who launched a nonprofit in her daughter’s name to support those affected by gun violence, spoke out about the loss Saturday during the second annual Ride for Justice awareness event in Detroit.
"No one understands what grieving parents go through when they lose a child to gun violence," said Rankin, of Sterling Heights. "I started the Justice for Jada nonprofit to support and merge together with other parents and victims... some people can't bury their kids, we help financially and emotionally through these fundraisers."
One bullet struck Jada and now Rankin has turned her grief into action, leading one event after another in an attempt to keep Jada’s death in the public’s eye.
About 50 motorcyclists and bicyclists attended the ride along from the former Mammoth shopping center on the city's northwest side and rode four miles to Sawyer Park with a Detroit police escort. Attendees held a rally at the park with speakers including City Councilwoman Mary Sheffield and parents of victims.
Andrea Clark, from Detroit, said her son Darnell, 30, was killed in a nightclub downtown in 2011. Clark also launched an organization called Mothers of Murdered Children, which has helped more than 300 mothers, she said.
"These rallies aren't meant to be joyous, my heart is heavy today," said Clark. "For a parent who has lost a child, to bring awareness each year is heartbreaking.
"We need to do better as a community so we shouldn't have to have these rallies."
Crime Stoppers is offering a $13,500 cash reward for tips that lead to an arrest in Jada's murder. Those with information can call 1-800-SPEAK-UP or at 1800SPEAKUP.org.