Dad wants march to highlight black-on-black crime, spur tips in son’s killing

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Deon Rushin says his sympathies lie with the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, but he’s organizing a march Saturday to bring awareness to what he says is a far more pervasive problem than white police officers shooting black citizens: Black-on-black crime.

Since 18-year-old black robbery suspect Michael Brown was killed Aug. 9 by a white police officer in a St. Louis suburb, Ferguson has seen protests and looting and police officers using tear gas to disperse crowds. The shooting has also sparked a national outcry about what some say are heavy-handed police tactics against African Americans.

Rushin wonders why there’s not as much of an uproar about black-on-black crime.

“You get situations like Trayvon Martin, or Michael Brown, and I care about what happened there, but in our black community, we’ve got a problem with pointing the finger at white people when we should be looking at ourselves instead,” said Rushin, whose 18-year-old son Allantae Powell was killed Aug. 24, 2011, in an unsolved drive-by shooting.

“We in the black community have got a lot of work to do in our own back yard,” Rushin said. “We videotape us beating each other, we rob and kill each other, and the minute someone of another race does something, you see all these marches. Well, I want a march to bring awareness to what we’re doing to each other.”

Powell was a star running back and linebacker for Osborn High School’s football team. He was walking with a friend near the intersection of Pembroke and Pinehurst on the city’s northwest side when someone opened fire, killing him.

In the weeks before his he was killed, Powell sent out tweets lamenting other Osborn students who died violent deaths.

“Dang, three people ... died from Osborn,” he wrote July 11. The next day, he added: “People dropping like flies. Summertime. I've known three people that (have) been killed in the past two weeks.”

Rushin and others will pass out fliers near the shooting scene Saturday, hoping it will result in a tip that leads police to his son’s killer — and to raise awareness about what he says are major social problems.

“I want to make sure people remember Allantae, and hopefully someone who knows what happened will speak up,” he said. “I’m also trying to get people to think about this problem of black-on-black crime, and the importance of fathers being involved with their children. These are huge issues in our community.

“It’s not white people who are killing the majority of black kids in the city of Detroit. It’s black people.”

Malik Shabazz, director of the Marcus Garvey Movement-The Black Panther Nation, which works to close down drug houses, helps police find criminals and passes out food and clothing to the city’s homeless, agreed with Rushin.

“Murder is murder,” he said. “All murder is a disgrace before both God and man. Of course, black folks should be angry, riled up, and upset with the continuation of black-on-black crime.

Powell’s mother, Kimberly Powell, said she can’t bring herself to attend Saturday’s march, which will begin at noon at the corner of Pembroke and Pinehurst.

“It’s just too much,” she said. “Whenever I go to that neighborhood, it takes a lot out of me, and it takes days before I can go to sleep. I told Allantae’s father he’ll have to go there to represent our son, because I just can’t do it.”

Since her son’s killing, Powell has volunteered with Crime Stoppers of Michigan, which is offering a $2,500 reward for information (800-SPEAK-UP) that leads to the killer’s arrest.

“I relive this all the time, but I’m still moving forward,” she said. “It’s not easy, but it’s all I can do.”

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Awareness march


Noon Saturday


Corner of Pembroke and Pinehurst


Organizers hope to bring awareness to black-on-black crime, and prompt anyone with information about the slaying of 18-year-old football player Allantae Powell to step forward.