Dozens of people holding green balloons gathered at Eugene McCray Park Monday at the vigil of a man Fort Worth Councilwoman Gyna Bivens called “her community warrior.”
Manuel Brown, 43, was shot to death on Sunday outside the New Start nightclub, and many said Bivens had a “heavy heart” because of his death.
In the time she knew him Brown had become her go-to man to get the word out on the street when she needed help with an event, a cause, a need, and she would miss that, Bivens said.
“I first met Manuel Brown at a Stop the Violence rally at Dunbar High,” Bivens said in a Facebook post.
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Brown planned the biggest, most organized Juneteenth Parade that she had ever seen in Stop Six, Bivens said.
Brown had recently sponsored a Thanksgiving dinner celebration and provided fried turkeys with all the trimmings and entertainment for those who attended, according to Bivens. The city tried to charge him for a permit and fees, but Bivens said she was able to get those costs waived.
“I told them I was going to bake a cake for the dinner,” Bivens said. “Y’all gonna give me a ticket?”
The latest project Bivens said she lined up for Brown was collecting 100 bicycles to give to 100 children for Christmas. Brown had already started working on it, Bivens said.
“I froze when I got the text about his death,” Bivens said.
In the Stop Six community, Brown was called M&M.
No arrest has been made in his shooting, which is under investigation, according to police.
A relative who spoke at the vigil told the crowd that she had been crying since Sunday after getting the news of Brown’s death. But the outpouring of love coming from the crowd let her know that she and Brown’s other family were not alone.
“People respected M&M,” she said.
The toy and bicycle drive is ongoing, said Chris Felton, one of the vigil’s organizers. Unwrapped toys and bicycles will be collected from noon to 3 p.m. at the Fiesta parking lot at Miller Avenue and Berry Street Saturday, Sunday and Dec. 22.
Several of those attending the vigil contributed and promised to bring toys. For more information on how to help, call 817-448-7279, Felton said.