This alarming trend has prompted concerned Sierra Leoneans in the DMV Zone to call an emergency ‘Stamp out Violence’ Town hall Meeting Saturday, April 14, at the Mirage Hall in Hyattsville, Maryland.
Yolanda Thompson, a ranking organizer and attorney based in Silver Spring, Maryland, frustratingly said that; “violent activity by Sierra Leoneans against other Sierra Leoneans in our community has now escalated to individuals being maimed or even losing their lives.”
The latest victim of this communal violence is 34 year old Aiah Nyanga Tongu of Greenbelt, Maryland. Authorities say Tongu was involved in a fight on March 18, 2012, with two other Sierra Leoneans and died later that day at a hospital.
The medical examiner’s office told Prince Georges County Police that Tongu’s death has been ruled a homicide, and that two suspects – 26 year old Teddy Kaikai Marchant and 36 year old Alhaji Abu Bakarr (both Sierra Leonean immigrants) are being held in connection with the killing of Tongu.
Sierra Leonean recording artist and reggae star JayARR who has resided in the metro Washington, DC for over a decade, said he had attended a 5 year old birthday party in the 9700 block of Martin Luther King Highway in the Lanham section of Maryland on that fateful night, where Tongu was also a guest.
He said that after the party, he and Tongu chatted as they normally do at Sierra Leonean events, before leaving for the parking lot to pick up his car.
JayArr added that; coming from the parking lot and heading home, he saw Tongu sitting on the curb with other party goers surrounding him. He stopped his car and helped out until a friend took Tongu to the hospital.
“I was shocked to hear that Tongu had passed when I woke up the following morning. Tongu was a very cool guy – the last person to be involved in violence and nonsense. He was an aspiring music producer and one of the best goalkeeper in the area playing for the Itals, a Sierra Leonean football club.”
Still, JayARR lamented that; “enough is enough, because the violence is getting to a point where if we don’t take a stand, it will affect everyone in our community. The way we are perceived by businesses – but most importantly the bad reputation with the authorities and with other Africans in the area.”
In a previous incident, on April 17th last year, Prince Georges County Police Department Homicide Unit arrested 3 Sierra Leoneans, including Alusine Kanu aged 22, Ransford Caulker aged 25 and Tanseh John Nicholas also aged 25, in connection with the homicide of Oluseun A. Fashina aged 23, in Glendale, Maryland.
Members of the Community organising this coming weekend event, say that the aim of the Saturday April 14th Town hall meeting, which starts at 2:00pm and finishing at 6:00pm is to discuss and address the growing violence in the Sierra Leonean community, its impact and hopefully come up with conflict resolution strategies that will help stamp out this scourge.
“We Sierra Leoneans are recovering from a decade-long war, where many lives were lost to the hands of other Sierra Leoneans. We cannot afford to revisit those days of killing one another, it is up to us to support our fellow Sierra Leoneans, not destroy them,” says Attorney Thompson.
Saturday’s Townhall meeting is free. For more information and direction please contact: Paul Bee@ 202.594.0836, Ms Yolanda Thompson@ 301-974-9592, JayARR@ 657.206.5962, Al@202.473.1929, SLMTV, SLFUNTV.