SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The community gathered with the family Azalya Anderson on Saturday to honor the life of the 3-year-old girl who was struck and killed by a stray drive-by bullet earlier this month. The vigil was held at Fruitridge Community Collaborative.
Activist Jamilia Land spoke for the family. “If Azalya Anderson could not be safe in the comfort of her mother’s lap while having a story read to her before bed, where can a child be safe,” she said while calling on the community to put an end to gun violence.
After the shooting Azalya clung to life for several days in the hospital before her family was forced to make the painful decision to take her off life support.
Her mother, Paula Anderson and father Darnell Grey prayed through tears at Saturday’s vigil as attendees released balloons and lit candles to honor Azalya. “We as a community have got to start to address the problems that are at the root of the violence that we are experiencing,” Land said over the loudspeaker as she addressed the crowd.
She says guns are too easy to access and more attention needs to be paid to mental health issues in underserved communities.
Stevante Clark was also in attendance. His own struggles were well publicized after the shooting death of his brother Stephon Clark by Sacramento Police this past spring. But the focus Saturday was about Azalya and catching the suspect that took her life. “This community is demanding that you turn yourself in” said a local pastor from the podium.
Land urged the community to take more responsibility and break the code of silence. “When do we stop. When do we stop the violence? When do we start to ensure our children’s safety? When do we stop ‘I don’t know nothing’ because somebody knows something” she said.
Organizers of the vigil are also planning a march in the coming weeks from the State Capitol to William Land Park to honor Azalya and highlight the need for gun reform.