PLEASANTVILLE, N.J. — Scores of marchers called for an end to gun violence as they gathered over the weekend on the football field where a 10-year-old boy was slain and two other people injured during a state playoff game earlier this month.
More than 100 people, including local religious and community leaders, marched Saturday afternoon from a small park over the Atlantic City Expressway to the Pleasantville High School field, chanting “Hands up, guns down. Prayers up, guns down.” Another chant — “Each one, reach one” — alluded to a call to be more involved in the lives of young people.
Interim Superintendent Dennis Anderson said it was “with a heavy heart and a huge sense of disbelief” that he stood to apologize to the young people around him, saying “Someway, somehow, somewhere along the lines, my generation has failed you.”
“I ask that those of you from the younger generation and generations — do what my generation was not able to do,” Anderson said. “Please, by all means, stop the violence, encourage people to do what’s right and to do the right thing, and not to engage in activities that inflict harm to others.”
Gunfire erupted in the stands of a Nov. 15 playoff game between the Camden Panthers and the Pleasantville Greyhounds. Fifth-grader Micah Tennant was shot in the neck and died Wednesday of his injuries. A 15-year-old was left with a graze wound.
Chris Wright, a freshman defensive player, told the crowd it was a “violent nightmare” in which he and others “felt as though we could not run fast enough to safety.”
Khaliyah Haraksin, the high school’s freshman class president, told the crowd that “this was not Pleasantville” but “adults taking their feud to a football game, trying to end it there.” Haraksin said “we all know it could have been any of us that day. … We need to tell people to put their guns down.”
One man is charged with murder and attempted murder while several others, including the man authorities said was the target of the shooting, face weapons charges.