Community Joins in Memorial, March Against Violence
By Christine Neff
A community affected by a deadly off-campus shooting came together July 7 to march against violence and honor the two victims, one of whom was an East Carolina University student.
Rising ECU senior Edgar Landon Blackley, 21, and Charles Andrew “Drew” Kirby, 29, died June 30 after being shot outside The Other Place bar and nightclub on Fifth Street in Greenville. Police said both men were innocent bystanders, victims of a drive-by shooting.
To honor Blackley and Kirby and to take a stand against violence, nearly 200 people participated in an anti-violence march organized by ECU’s Student Government Association.
The crowd of students, faculty, staff, community members and family and friends of the victims walked quietly down Fifth Street behind a bright yellow banner printed with the words, “Pirates Against Violence.”
The march wound through campus, ending at the cupola where a memorial service and candlelight vigil were held.
Chancellor Steve Ballard thanked students for their commitment to non-
violence and to displaying leadership in this tragedy. “The Pirate nation does come together. We do stick together in the hardest times,” he said. “Let’s make a commitment tonight that we will all continue to do that and make something good come out of this tragedy.”
Greenville Mayor Pat Dunn spoke of the pain felt by families, friends and the greater community after this senseless act of violence. “We want to stand strong as a university and as a city, united to bring an end to violence and all of the negativity and pain that it brings,” she said.
ECU student Tremayne Smith called on his fellow Pirates to take a stand against violence and intolerance, reminding them that the only colors that matter at ECU are purple and gold. “Our brother is gone, and we’re upset. But let us remember that we are still here, and we need to get involved in making sure that violence is not perpetuated, and their lives are not forgotten,” Smith said.
Several members of the Blackley family attended the memorial and march. Lennie Blackley, Landon’s father, expressed his appreciation to participants.
“Our family will survive this with all of your prayers and help, and this really warms our heart,” he said. “It’s been a blessing in our life, and we love East Carolina.”