It was the biggest mass killing in the city's history. But that doesn't begin to tell the story of what happened that night in West Philadelphia.
When the preacher stood to deliver a eulogy about choices, the mourners seemed almost numb.
"CJ made his choice," the preacher said.
He never explained that choice.
Two days later, at 15-year-old Malik Harris' funeral, a female relative stood outside Ward A.M.E. Church at 43rd and Aspen, doubled over in grief as police sat nearby, watching.
Inside the church, Harris' young cousin, a boy whose voice had not yet changed, stepped toward the altar, grabbed hold of the rail and sang "Amazing Grace."
Quiante Perrin, the neighbor who would later be arrested in connection with the Lex Street murders, was among the mourners.
He was crying.
By Jan. 9, the day of George Porter's funeral, the neighborhood had been reeling for nearly two weeks. The anger was palpable.
Four uniformed officers were posted inside Mount Olivet Baptist Church on 37th and Wallace streets. There were plainclothes officers outside, and an officer stood atop a flatbed truck, videotaping everyone in attendance.
As Tamika Porter stood to read a poem to her mother, she looked out into the audience, scanned the balcony, then looked at those seated along the floor. Her face creased in a wry, mirthless smile.
"Before I read this poem to my mom, I just want to say whoever did this to my brother might be staring at me right now. If we don't get you, God will definitely get you for this. Jig there, but he lives on, so don't think it's sweet. Believe me, don't think it's sweet."
Jermel Lewis, the man who eventually confessed to the murders, was there. He wiped Tamika Porter's tears, comforted George Porter's mother and promised to help the family find the killers.
After returning from Porter's funeral, two of Guy Long's relatives, Tommie Howell and Keith Long, were shocked to see Mayor John Street holding a press conference on Lex Street. He was there to announce a $50,000 reward for information about the shootings.
When Keith Long started asking questions about why the city was funding stadiums rather than communities, Street ended the press conference.
"He said, 'This is a press conference, not a community meeting,'" Long recalls. "How can you say that as the mayor?"
Later that night, Frances Walker-Ponnie held a youth forum at Martha Washington--the very school where the Lex Street victims had befriended each other as children.
Police Capt. John Hargraves, Deputy Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, state Sen. Vincent Hughes, state Rep. Mike Horsey and Health Commissioner Dr. Walter Tsou all attended.
"We have every elected official that represents this community right here in this room tonight," Hughes said at the gathering.
Philly Weekly's Fall Guide 2015
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