Gang victim remembered

Published 9:32 pm Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One year ago during the afternoon of Aug. 11, Ebony Clarke was talking to friends and taking care of her then four-month-old son.

By that evening, she was dead—an innocent bystander from a gang fight that turned violent.

Clarke’s murder was marked Tuesday with a march led by her mother, Barbara Williford, to send a loud and clear message—“I’m Ebony’s voice today,” Williford said.

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And according to Williford, law-abiding citizens are going to take back the streets of Bainbridge—take back the streets from drugs and gang activity.

“Because of one man’s stupidity caused my daughter to lose her life,” Williford said.

Also on Tuesday, Antonio Greenlee of Cairo was standing trial in the Decatur County Courthouse for felony murder charges stemming from Clarke’s murder.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the trial was still proceeding.

According to Bainbridge Public Safety investigators, Greenlee was firing a gun at another individual around the area of Broughton and Sims streets near the Bainbridge Housing Authority complex. A second bullet struck Clarke in the head, causing a fatal injury. Clarke, who lived on Fowlstown Road at the time, was visiting a friend at an apartment when the shooting occurred, investigators said.

The investigation is still pending and further arrests are forthcoming in association with a fight that started on Broughton Street and climaxed at the Sims Street apartment. It ended with Clarke’s murder and the aggravated assault of Travis Hallmon, who was shot in the leg.

‘Taking it back’

Williford hopes that Clarke’s death will spur the community to “take back the streets,” to eliminate drugs and gang activity around Bainbridge and within Decatur County.

Williford and approximately 30 people started their program in front of the Bainbridge Housing Authority on Sims Street. They held hands and prayed.

The group then walked toward Willis Park, where there were a series of speakers, which included the Revs. Adren Bivins, Randall Hines and Stephen Webb; Bainbridge Public Safety Director Larry Funderburke and Capt. Ryan Wimberley; Friendship House of Jesus Administrative Director Josh Paske, and Williford.

“It’s ashame that something like this had to happen in order to ‘take it back’,” said Funderburke. “It’s going to take a community to take it back.”

Capt. Wimberley, who is the community relations coordinator and coordinates the city’s Neighborhood Watch program, said the city is experiencing more drug and gang activity.

Wimberley touted the concept of Neighborhood Watch to the approximately 50 people at the Willis Park portion of the program.

“Neighborhood Watch belongs to you—the community. It’s a method to come together,” Wimberley said.

Wimberley said many times, witnesses may have seen something that they might not think is significant, but in fact, it is to investigators. He said also some witnesses, and even victims, are reluctant to talk with police because of fear or peer pressure that encourages some not to cooperate with police.

“The best evidence we can have is a witness,” Wimberley said.

Williford said she hopes to have an outreach program that would curtail the drug and gang activity in Bainbridge.

Clarke was 21 years old when she died. Her now 16-month-old son has been adopted by Williford.