PHILADELPHIA—On the sun-soaked morning of April 4, family, friends, and community residents gathered to lay Devin Weedon to rest. On a crisp spring morning of March 28, Philadelphia was left reeling with shock and sorrow at the tragic news of Devin’s tragic and violent death.
The 15-year-old schoolboy fought for his life against four attackers just two blocks from his school, Simon Gratz High. Sadly, Devin’s resistance resulted in one of the assailants firing their weapon and killing him. No arrests have been made.
Members of Fruit of Islam (F.O.I., the men of the Nation of Islam) from Muhammad Mosque No. 12 united to honor and support Devin’s mother, Wytina X Burnside, and her family at the funeral of her beloved son at her request. Amidst somber yet uplifting music emanating from Deliverance Baptist Church, they acted as a military escort and honor guard for the family with poise and grace.
Philadelphia has experienced a heartbreaking increase of children becoming victims of gun violence this year, with five other youths under 18 killed and 37 shot so far. This figure, according to statistics from the Philadelphia Police Department, surpasses those recorded in 2015 and 2016 combined, as shootings involving minors continue to rise significantly within the city.
Mourners at Devin’s funeral were at a loss in how to address the reoccurring problem of gun violence. City Councilperson Cindy Bass said parents need to search their children’s bedrooms. Others advocated for arresting parents of youth who possess guns.
During his remarks, Devin’s father, Gary Weedon, stated: “We put people in office and they’re doing nothing. When are they gonna stop this? Is it gonna take people in the neighborhood, men like me and y’all, to take back our streets?”
In response to an invitation from Ms. Burnside, Assistant Student Minister Lamond Muhammad of Mosque No. 12 and leader of the Lehigh Valley Area Nation of Islam Study Group spoke passionately to those in attendance about his support for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s clarion call for 10,000 Fearless to work to make communities a safe and decent places to live. He encouraged those present to unite and take their advocacy out into the streets. “We have to unite; I believe what my brother said was right; we have to get outta these houses of worship, and we have to go to the street,” he said.
Devin was a hardworking, ambitious young man who deeply treasured his family. As the youngest of 10 siblings, he set an example by achieving academic success and excelling on Simon Gratz’s football team while striving to fulfill his dream of helping others achieve their athletic goals by opening a gym for youth athletes. His brother Aaron aptly captured how Devin lived—embodying an admirable work ethic with no intention other than simply playing “by the book.”
Richard Riley, one of Devin’s coaches at Simon Gratz High School, highlighted the essence of his character to The Final Call. He referred to him as “one of the purest and most innocent souls” with leadership qualities that outshined many others. Mr. Riley noted how he watched Devin’s maturity grow from his freshman year to his sophomore year with his final project in his social justice class, which ended up being dedicated to helping feed those struggling with poverty. This inspired even Coach Riley himself, who mentioned that “Devin kept me pushing.”
F.O.I. Student 1st Officer Alphonzo Muhammad led the F.O.I. detail to demonstrate The Nation of Islam’s dedication and support for those affected by violence. This commitment reflects their teachings under the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, ordained by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammed, which prioritizes caring for communities through service, he pointed out to The Final Call.
“The Nation of Islam is acutely aware of the pain and violence afflicting our communities. To demonstrate solidarity with those affected, under F.O.I. Student Captain Anthony Muhammad’s direction, we extended our support towards Sister Watina and her family by publicly showing that we care for them in their time of grief.”
Devin leaves behind his parents, Gary and Wytina, siblings, several nieces and nephews, his grandmother Ernestine Weedon and a host of aunts and uncles.