Shaniya Valentine hoisted a megaphone at the front of a peace march through Marin City on Friday afternoon and issued a call and response to end gun violence in a community that has been rocked by another death shot last weekend.
“Two, four, six eight, stop the violence, stop the hate,” shouted Shaniya, a 13-year-old student at Bayside Martin Luther King Jr. Academy who is entering eighth grade this year.
More than 150 students, community members, law enforcement officers and government officials gathered for the Peace Walk between George “Rocky” Graham Park and Golden Gate Village.
On Sunday, a 42-year-old Oakland man, Michael Arthur Rogers II, died in a hospital after being shot in the neighborhood. A second victim survived. The suspect, Sel Charvet Butler Jr., 27, of Marin City, also survived gunshot wounds.
Butler was jailed Wednesday in the county jail on suspicion of murder, assault with a deadly weapon, shooting an occupied vehicle and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The Marin County District Attorney’s Office charged him with those crimes Thursday.
Butler’s defense attorney requested that the arraignment be postponed until August 30. Butler is being held without bond.
Sheriff’s investigators have not released an alleged motive for the shooting or details about what led up to it.
The case is the second firearm homicide in Marin City since March 3, when 18-year-old Randy Ray Belanger of San Anselmo was fatally shot in a parking lot not far from Sunday’s incident. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the matter and has not made any arrests.
Shaniya heard the gunshots Sunday from her residence, she said. She said this and similar incidents frustrate her because young locals don’t want to feel uncomfortable about the threat of guns.
“When you see all the people walking today, you can see they care,” Shaniya said. “These people have families. It’s just sad. You feel like you don’t have to do this, especially at this young age.
The march aimed to draw attention to “trauma triggers” to help heal local youth, especially people of color who primarily make up Marin City’s population, said organizer Ayana Morgan, 24. She said the effort to stop the violence now could act as healing for a new generation that didn’t have the same negative impressions of Marin City as many adults.
“We have to do something for them,” Morgan said.
About a third of Friday’s marchers, including Shaniya, were black youth, many of whom carried signs reading “No violence” and “Not in our town.” They were joined by many others from Marin City, Sausalito and across the county.
“Unity is the path to making a difference in senseless gun violence,” said Sausalito Marin City School District Board Administrator Yasmine McGrane. “From students to seniors, intergenerational connection is where the power is to help solve gun violence.”
Reverend Rondall Leggett of the First Missionary Baptist Church called the march a “direct response” to the recent shooting.
“These unfortunate, heinous, senseless and relentless acts of violence are happening too now,” he said. “I’ve been to too many wakes, mostly for young men who died for something insane.”
“We come to this with heavy hearts, weary bodies, minds overwhelmed with why we keep coming back to this moment,” Leggett said during a speech at the park.
Carol Thomas, a former Marin City resident now living in San Rafael, sang an imploring proclamation of religious and community connection with a song titled “Jesus is Love.”
“Words can fall empty, fall flat,” she said. “But by saying it with music and lyrics, you’ll reach more people.”
Marin City Community Services District board member Terrie Harris-Green said she would use job training and recreational resources to promote alternatives to violence or guns.
“We have to do something different,” she said. “We’re going to need resources and jobs to do that.”
Sheriff Jamie Scardina also marched alongside Marin City residents and was joined by several uniformed deputies.
“It shows this community and the communities of all Marins that we want to end gun violence,” Scardina said. “It’s a partnership and we can’t do it alone.”