Vigil remembers slain son with calls to stop the violence

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A family in Grand Rapids is getting ready to bury their son this weekend following a deadly assault last month.

A vigil was held Thursday night on Vineland Avenue south of 28th Street, which is where Julius Vinson III, 25, was found with a bad head injury. He died a few days later in the hospital. Police say he was assaulted.

“We just knew that he had a head trauma,” says Tony Wilkins, Vinson's mother. “That was it. We didn’t know much. We knew he was unconscious and may have been unconscious all day.”

People attending Vinson's vigil said it's time to stop the violence.

“It’s not about revenge, it’s about stopping things before they start,” said Elijah Libbett with Mothers On A Mission, a group against violence. “If you don’t want your mother sitting here, than stop the violence. Either one day you’ll end up in jail or you will wind up dead.”

Thursday’s vigil featured Vinson's picture surrounded by the pictures of nearly a dozen other people who have died from street violence in Grand Rapids in recent years.

“I lost my son, and we are really trying to send a message," said the victim's father, Julius Vinson Jr. "You know I’m hurting real bad.”

Vinson's grieving mom had a message for the person who did this to her son. “I forgive them,” said Wilkins. “I won’t harbor any hate, any bad feelings. I’m going to walk this with grace. I had always said if I was a mother and someone had hurt my child that I would stand with forgiveness. And that’s where I stand today. I forgive them.”

The family said they feel good that Vinson was an organ donor and that it’s comforting to know parts of him are helping others to lives.

Anyone with information about what happened is asked to call Grand Rapids police at 616-456-4151 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.


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