The unsolved shooting death of his 6-year-old granddaughter lit a fire in him over the last year, but activist K.G. Wilson began his plea calmly.
"This is what y'all got to understand," Wilson told the crowd on Wednesday gathered at the scene where Aniya Allen was shot on May 17, 2021, in Minneapolis. "We can't keep talking about, 'Oh, the police aren't doing this and doing that.' They don't know who did this, y'all do! So y'all gotta either tell them or you gotta tell me or my family."
"Right!" somebody answered.
Then Wilson's voice rose to an impassioned bellow as he spoke of how a stray bullet had killed Aniya. He begged the dozens gathered at the corner of 36th Street and Penn Avenue N. to pay attention.
"I told you and I warned you, our kid today could be your kid today or tomorrow! … The same person that did that to ours will do it to yours," he said.
In a year when homicides reached the highest level in a generation, the loss of Aniya last May shocked Minneapolis — the last in a trio of shootings of children by stray gunfire over several weeks. There was Ladavionne Garrett Jr., who was 10 when critically wounded in an unsolved case. There was Trinity Ottoson-Smith, 9, who died; her killer was charged in February. Wilson had been going to homicide scenes for years, preaching peace, and found himself in the biggest fight of his life for justice.
As he pressed on, several public officials and law enforcement leaders came to the corner to pay their respects and state their commitment to finding the shooter. Minneapolis police Lt. Richard Zimmerman told the people gathered of a $180,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who shot Aniya and Ladavionne.
"We can get some justice for Aniya's family, for K.G., who's been out at all these scenes. … He's been out at scenes when it's 20 below out and lost his child. K.G.'s been there when it's 100 degrees in the summertime," he said.
Mayor Jacob Frey spoke of the senselessness.
"We are here for an extraordinary, strong, intelligent, beautiful 6-year-old girl who had a bright future ahead of her," Frey said. "We are here because we cannot allow for that future to get cut short for anyone else. We're here for Aniya, for Trinity, for Ladavionne. … Countless other young people whose lives have been cut short for what? Truthfully, for no reason at all."
A grim sorority of mothers who lost their children to shootings stood in the audience, including those of London Bean, 12, and Terrell Mayes, 3. Aniya's mother, Antrice Sease, said she had come to support her daughter and try "to bring some light and positivity." Aniya's aunt, Curtina Wilson also came to honor the memory of Aniya, with whom she used to play hide and seek and go to the park.
"I know Aniya is gone," she said, "but it's like her soul is still with us."