How A Triple-Shooting Sparked the Love-Not-Hate Movement In East Orange
Long before the tragic murders that shattered their peace occurred, Deborah and Dy-Shawn Simpkins were committed to providing kids with alternatives to street violence. The New Jersey couple's after-school programs and day care centers have created safe havens for over 650 Irvington kids annually for the last nine years alone. Meanwhile, their community outreach has been active in the region for over 15 years.
Despite such passionate devotion, the nation's violence has grown exponentially. This was never more apparent to the couple than when their own son, Dy-Shawn Simpkins Jr., 18, along with their nephew Kee-Ayre Griffin, 29, was killed in a triple shooting in East Orange. The senseless murders interrupted the promising lives of Simpkins, Jr-with his athletic career at Norfolk State University; and Griffin-a former student athlete at Temple University where he played football after attending Saint Peter's Prep.
In dealing with the hateful killings, it was the community's support that showed the couple the tool to fight the trauma with, such as when the entire NSU football team arrived to join in a massive outpouring of love at the funeral. Now everyone is asked to participate in a march with that theme as its core message-the Love and Not Hate March & Movement. Organized by Simpkins's own nonprofit of seven years, the GAP Program (Gang Alternative Program), and other nonprofits collectively known as Community United As One. The group, along with the title sponsor, East Orange City Council, will use the march as a kickoff to an annual event that brings awareness to the ongoing violence epidemic.
Part of the march will culminate in a musical segment where Dy-Shawn Simpkins, Sr. will perform the song, "Seeds in the Field" that he recorded with his son before the tragedy.
With spiritually potent music that he releases as Deacon Don DyDy, he uses it as a beacon to lure the hip hop generation toward a holier message. To bring enlightenment to the march, Al Sharpton has been invited to join the Simpkins on a lineup of pastors and political luminaries that include: Ted Green Council President and newly elected Mayor of East Orange, NJ, Reverend Timothy Huff, Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss, and Pastor Jerry Smith. Set to host the event is rap icon Vinnie Brown aka Uncle Vinnie from Grammy award winning hip hop trio Naughty by Nature.
The march will commence on Saturday, August 12th at 8:00 am with the start beginning at Hollywood Ave & Central Ave in East Orange, NJ. The march ends at Oval Park in East Orange, NJ. From there, all will celebrate the Community United As One day to bring about awareness from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm with events, music, food, youth activities, vendors, sports, back to school giveaways and more!