To grieve 7-year-old boy, family demonstrates against violence
Indi Mock-Carmona was supposed to be celebrating her grandson's 8th birthday Saturday. But instead of placing candles on a cake, she was rallying against violence with dozens of other people in a march along a busy corridor of Crenshaw Boulevard.
Since 7-year-old Taalib Pecantte was shot and killed in December, his family members have reached out to try to save other families from their grief.
Taalib, a boy his football coach said had the "heart of a lion," was shot in the back while sitting in a car with his mother and a male friend in Mid-City. Taalib's mother and the man survived.
“After what happened, I had to,” Mock said. “I had to stand up for my grandson.”
For Mock, that goal has led to her creating a group called the Senseless Act of Violence Effect, which aims to bring awareness to killings of innocent people.
“I’m just going to put everything I can into this,” she said, choking up as she tried to talk about her grandson.
Family members said Taalib liked to play video games and loved to eat Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
Four men, including two brothers, were charged in February with murder and attempted murder in connection with Taalib's killing, which authorities said was linked to an ongoing gang feud. They have all pleaded not guilty.
Taalib’s father, Rich Pecantte, said coping with the loss of his son also motivated him to act.
Pecantte has started a youth foundation that aims to mentor young men. The name — T34 — was his son’s Compton Vikings football team number.
“The only way I feel I can overcome this is to be involved,” he said. “It’s not just happening here, it’s happening all over the nation.”
In a march that began off Crenshaw Boulevard and West 36th Street and that stretched more than a mile to Leimert Park, dozens of people, including children, held signs featuring homicide victims’ faces.
“How many more innocent children? How many more innocent lives?” a sign asked.
One horizontal banner included Taalib sipping on a smoothie, as well as a photo of 6-year-old Tiana Ricks, who was shot and killed outside her aunt’s Moreno Valley home in September.
As Tiana’s grandfather, Tyrell Ricks, waited for the group to arrive at Leimert Park, he placed a hand over her photo on the banner. He was there when the girl was shot.
“The look on her face, man. ... I can’t get that out of my head,” he said.
As Mock approached the park, she held a sign high above her head and stopped on the sidewalk and shouted the group’s chant: “S-A-V-E, stop the violence in the streets!”
On the sign was a poem for Taalib. “Happy Birthday Taalib,” it read.
Photo, top: People walk on Crenshaw Boulevard on Saturday afternoon to protest violence. Credit: Nicole Santa Cruz / Los Angeles Times
Photo, bottom: Indi Mock-Carmona holds a sign featuring a poem for her grandson. Credit: Nicole Santa Cruz / Los Angeles Times