Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sorrow laced with anger at youth's funeral in St. Petersburg

Hands aloft, dozens of mourners crowded around the coffin of Javon "Holly Hood" Dawson and joined in prayer.

It was their response to an elder's hope that they could mine good out of something tragic.

"It could have been any one of our kids today," a mother told those gathered Saturday for Dawson's funeral service.

Dawson, 17, was fatally shot by a police officer June 7 outside a high school graduation party. Police said the teenager was firing a gun in the air and leveled it at the officer. His family and friends dispute that account.

At Saturday's service, nine pews were set aside for the family at All Nations Church of God by Faith.

Teenagers, some wearing T-shirts dedicated to Dawson's memory, made up a large part of the overwhelmingly African-American crowd. A large bouquet of red roses and baby's breath lay atop the coffin. Female ushers in black suits and white gloves handed out fans and programs.

Among those present were Omali Yeshitela, founder of the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement.

"Another child," he said to a reporter.

Members of the Nation of Islam also attended the service. One spoke of wanting "to aid in coming up with the truth."

Diop Olugbala, head of the Justice for Javon Dawson Committee and a member of Uhuru, said Dawson's shooting was "an awakening for our community. … We need to get organized."

A church elder cut his speech short, in keeping with the stipulation that reflections be kept to two minutes. A friend of Dawson's drew loud applause for reciting a poem he had written to cope with the death.

But the person who most galvanized the congregation was the eulogist, Bishop Evans Bacon Jr. White towel in hand, Bacon was in full call-and-response mode as he gave a rousing sermon that sought to comfort the family.

"This is a task for Jesus," he said.

"None of us is big enough to handle what needs to be handled. … I believe the Bible said, 'Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.' "

He told the story of his own brother, murdered when someone intentionally gave him an overdose of drugs. Police didn't seem to care, he said.

"Every young black man is not a thug," he said, eliciting a roar of agreement from the crowd, many of whom rose from their seats.

Bacon said his brother's murderer is now in jail.

"Don't tell me God won't take care of it. … Let Jesus handle it," he said directly to the family.

But "don't let them sweep it under the carpet. This is America. This shouldn't be."

Dawson's interment was postponed because of Saturday's rainy weather. The ceremony will be private.

After the service, Moses Williams talked about the friend he had known since childhood. The 16-year-old wore a T-shirt with his friend's picture, bearing the words, "In loving memory of Javon Dawson."

He said this is the second friend he's lost in a matter of weeks.

The other friend? "He got shot, too."

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at wmoore@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2283.

Sorrow laced with anger at youth's funeral in St. Petersburg 06/21/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 26, 2008 4:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.