RIVIERA BEACH — I’Zarion Colin became Palm Beach County’s youngest crime victim on May 28. He was only 18 months old. I’Zarion was laid to rest Saturday in a tiny coffin, surrounded by balloons and teddy-bears. About 100 people came out to say goodbye.
On the day he died, authorities say, the infant was sitting in a parked car at a West Palm Beach apartment complex with his mother, Chantel Colin, her boyfriend, William Jerome Robinson, and Robinson’s 4-year- old son, when an unidentified man jumped into the car with a gun.
Robinson reportedly tried to knock the gun away but the weapon discharged, hitting I’Zarion in the torso. The infant was rushed to a hospital and into surgery but doctors couldn’t save him.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office had so far made no arrests and there were no suspects.
A few days before the infant was killed, a shooting took place in a park in Riviera Beach. A few days later, another shooting took place, this time near West Riviera Elementary School in Riviera Beach.
Now Derrick McCray, owner of McCray’s Backyard BBQ of West Palm Beach, wants to do something about such incidents. “We needed to do something to curb the violence and about losing lives and destroying the fabric of our families,” McCray said in an interview. He said he and a friend were brainstorming on how to address the problem. “We knew we needed to do something to introduce peace into the city,” he said.
The result is the Peace & Feast in the Neighborhood scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, June 27, at the Dan Calloway Complex., 1420 W. 10th St., Riviera Beach. The goal is to unify the community and impress on youth and families the impact of violence.
McCray said he called on Riviera Beach Council Chairwoman Judy Davis, who quickly joined forces with him. Davis’ colleagues on the City Council all agreed to participate, as well.
“We have to make some changes in Riviera Beach to make it safer for our children. We have to reach our young people,” Davis said. “As community leaders, we have to take a unified stand against violence and work together to keep our communities safe.”
Riviera Beach Police Chief Clarence D. Williams III also quickly got onboard and is urging other agencies to do so as well. “The event is designed to educate youth and families on the destructive impact of illegal activities on our communities.” Williams said. He urged law enforcement officials from other agencies to participate in the rally and festival.
“I believe it is important that representatives from local law enforcement agencies be in attendance. Everyone needs to see the partnership that exists within our agencies to know there is a comprehensive, area-wide strategy to combat the problem,”
Williams said in a letter regarding the event.
McCray said he wants the event to be reminiscent of the old annual African Arts Festival which took place in Palm Beach, County for many years. “We want many vendors who have solutions to problems, such as the Urban League, and other groups who are working hard in the community, to bring about positive change,” he said. “We are also looking for other cultural vendors who have jewelry, artwork, etc. Free food such as ribs, chicken, hot dogs, fish and drinks will be provided.”
McCray has been a food vendor and partner with the Super Bowl for the past several years, traveling to different sites for football’s big game. He will provide free barbecue for the rally. There also will be entertainment showcasing dancers, rappers, gospel and R&B performers.
“We want to showcase our youth and show them that there is something else they can do other than engage in violent behavior. This will showcase the positive side of our youth,” McCray said.
According to Davis, “We are hoping that we will have a summer in the city without violence. We are hoping to make Peace & Feast in the Neighborhood an annual event to kick off the summer.”
McCray is hoping the festival will be replicated in other cities and become a national model.