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Mourners call for an end to violence at vigil for slain 1-year-old

Mourners call for an end to violence at vigil for slain 1-year-old
Lele Bowden and Toni Bowden light candles at a memorial for Autumn Johnson, aCompton 1-year-old who was killed by gunfire. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

A vigil was held Wednesday night for Autumn Johnson, a 1-year-old girl killed the night before in a gang-related shooting in Compton.

More than a dozen neighbors from Holly Avenue and the surrounding area made their way to the end of the driveway of a yellow house, where balloons, flowers and teddy bears had been left by family and well-wishers throughout the day.

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The small crowd and the child's extended family listened as anti-gang activists spoke and called for the gunman to turn himself in.

"There's a murderer in Compton who killed a 1-year-old baby," said Khalid Shaw, with the Stop the Violence, Increase the Peace Foundation.

"Whoever did this is a coward," he said. "If you have any manhood in you, stand up, turn yourself in."

Autumn Johnson, 1, was killed at her Compton home Feb. 9.
Autumn Johnson, 1, was killed at her Compton home Feb. 9. (Courtesy of the Johnson family)

Umar Hakim of the Coalition to Preserve Human Dignity said there was no greater time to stand up against such violence than now.

"It's time to stand in solidarity," he told the small crowd.

The activists spoke loudly and also sometimes too softly for neighbors from across the street to hear from their porches.

The turnout was low, and some residents expressed disappointment.

"This is ridiculous," said Ronnell Thompson, 39, a longtime resident and city worker. "I'm upset the black community is not out here."

"I feel the community as a whole should be out here, not just blacks," said Lachanda Fox, 40. "I'm a mother, and this has upset me a lot."

Compton clergy said at a news conference earlier in the day that they plan to hold a prayer vigil Thursday night at Unity Christian Fellowship.

At Wednesday's vigil, family members joined in a prayer and thanked neighbors for their support.

"It's been overwhelming," said Kenyia Hicks, 44.

At the end of the vigil, activists, family members and neighbor's chanted as loud as they could: "Stop the violence, increase the peace."

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