The 10th anniversary of the shooting death of a 10-year-old Albany girl was commemorated Monday night at city hall.
Kathina Thomas, a 10-year-old city girl, was killed by a stray bullet fired from a 15-year old boy's "community gun" as she played in front of her family home on First Street May 29, 2008. A few months later, in October, 22-year-old UAlbany student Richard Bailey was shot dead by a 17-year-old a block from Washington Park. Both young killers were given life sentences.
But the cycle of violence continued, eventually impacting Albany's top elected official, Mayor Kathy Sheehan: "When I received a phone call, on April 8th of 2017, from my son's birth mother, telling me that the young man who had been murdered at the corner of First and Quail was her son and my son's brother, gun violence hit home directly. Senseless usage of guns that are killing people in our city, not only impacting those who lose their lives, but their families forever. And for an act of gun violence to occur not even a year later at that same location, where bullets pierced the windows of a daycare center, over senseless gun violence is something that we need to stop in this community."
Albany Common Councilor Derek Johnson's brother was shot and killed in 1993: "Since the late '80's or early '90's when guns got introduced to our community, it changed a loving community."
Jerome Brown is a member of the anti-gun group 518 SNUG: "In 2008 my brother, to this day is paralyzed because he was helpin' me do security at a local bar. Also in 2008 I lost my nephew because he was shot and killed when he went to a party."
The Times Union recently reported that Albany has become safer. According to the paper, the year Thomas died there were 201 crimes committed with firearms in the city. Last year, there were 121.
Community activist Marlon Anderson: "Numbers only tell about successful shootins. They don't tell you about the shootins that have happened but weren't successful. They haven't told you about the acts of violence that haven't been counted."
Anderson's tireless anti-gun efforts have been mirrored by others including Pastor Charlie Muller, District Attorney David Soares, SNUG and former Councilor Dom Calsolaro. But a unified effort never materialized. Thomas' brother George Yhap made a plea at City Hall: "I would like for us to implement all the programs that we started up to eliminate, stop and cure all the violence so that our young people could actually live their life."
Anderson is optimistic: "There are more representatives in this event than there have been in perhaps all the gun violence events, including the events that I held in the city of Albany than there has ever been, and I am happy to see that, because if this problem is gonna be addressed and solved, they can't leave it to the community agencies, they can't leave it to programs. Leaders are going to have to lead."
The Albany Common Council declared June 2nd "Gun Violence Awareness Day" and June "Gun Violence Awareness Month."