RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - On Memorial Day weekend 2019, 9-year-old Markiya Dickson’s life was taken while attending a community event with her family at Carter Jones Park. A year later, the community is honoring her memory, sending a message to put an end to violence.
Monday, the community showed Markiya’s family love and support with a car ride through parts of the City of Richmond.
“The same way we lost our daughter, this city lost a little girl, and they’re showing us, we feel ya’ll, we are here for ya’ll," said Mark Whitfield, Markiya’s father.
Whitfield and Markiya’s mother, Ciara Dickson, say they are grateful for the dozens of people who showed up to the Roses parking lot on Mechanicsville Turnpike to honor their daughter and send a message to the community.
“We have got to do something better because we shouldn’t be going through this, no other parents should be going through this, it’s happening every day," said Whitfield. “We are in a pandemic, and life is at a standstill, but we are dying left and right and it’s not the disease taking us out, it’s violence---we took that ride today and I made sure I went through every urban community around here.”
Dickson and Whitfield have become fierce advocates for an end to violence.
“We have got to stand for something, so why not start with trying to stop the violence first?" said Dickson.
Six months after the shooting that took Markiya’s life and injured a 12-year-old boy, two men were arrested. Quinshawn Betts and Jermaine Davis were charged with firearms and murder charges. A third suspect, Jesus Turner was later arrested and charged with murder.
In March, a jury found Betts guilty of second-degree murder, malicious wounding and firearm charges. He is scheduled to be sentenced in August. He could face more than 40 years in prison.
Whitfield and Dixon say delays in court proceedings due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been hard on their family, as they continue to wait for justice.
“It’s been tough, it’s been a road, every day is hard, I can’t lie and say it’s getting better, it will never get better," said Whitfield.
Richmond City Council Woman Stephanie Lynch says a draft of a full renovations of Carter Jones Park is now in the hands of the City’s Parks and Recreation. Lynch says the ideas and plans were already in the works in 2019 to make positive changes to the park.
“[The project] took on whole different meaning mission after the tragedy last Memorial Day,” Lynch explained.
Lynch says among the new additions would be a Markiya Simone Dickson Imagination Zone, which Markiya’s family has advocated for.
While the plans for upgrades to the park are still in "draft mode, Lynch says there is still time for the community to offer feedback. She says fundraising to make the project possible will be crucial.
The family hopes by continuing to share Markiya’s story, the community will value each other’s lives more. They want Markiya’s legacy to help save someone else.
“Let’s do it the Markiya way, she was a loving person, caring person, if all of us could have that little girls emotion and feeling toward people, we would be in a better place," said Whitfield.
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