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by Michael Skolnik

Dressed in a black suit with a pink tie and a pink handkerchief, the favorite color of his daughter, Charles Jones walked with precise focus, as if he didn’t notice the thousands of people staring at him.   He appeared from a side door of the crowded Eastside Detroit church, walking straight towards the main floral arrangement, a crown for his princess with the words Aiyana so eloquently weaved into it, which ordained his seven-year-old daughter’s still body.  The gorgeous gospel sang from the soloist’s voice as Charles Jones laid his tender hands on the tiny, pure, angelic white casket.  Only six days ago, he had put his daughter to sleep on his living room couch, with a kiss good night.  Now, he would put her to sleep for good.

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Dominika Stanley would not witness the opening moments of her baby’s home coming.  Overwhelmed with sorrow and heartbreak, this young, fragile mother’s body could take no more.  She collapsed.  She fell to her knees before the pastor could give his opening prayer.  Understandably, she wanted out.  Whisked away by medical staff on hand, Dominika would later return, wearing Charles’ suit jacket to keep her warm.  With strength only a mother can conjure up, Dominika sat by her baby’s side to make sure she didn’t feel alone.  There is no proper preparation one could have given this young couple to survive a day like this, but like the King and Queen that they are to their Princess, they sat court with the most beautiful grace and elegance imaginable. 

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Their daughter, Aiyana Stanley-Jones was killed with one single bullet.  A bullet delivered from a gun of a man who once took an oath to protect and serve our communities.  A bullet that pierced the neck of this Justin Bieber fan, this Hannah Montana lover and this dreamer of one day being a Disney princess.  As the teen sensation’s hit single “Baby” played continuously over the loud speakers of the church as the procession entered, I was reminded just how young Aiyana was.  She would not get the chance to celebrate her 8th birthday.  She would not live to feel her nerves before her date arrived in a stretch limousine to pick her up for her high school prom.  She would not live to see the smiles on her parent’s faces when her name was called at her college graduation.   A girl taken from this earth far too early, before she could understand her own purpose.   A baby we buried today.

Thirty-seven years ago, we waged war on our own people, when President Nixon declared a “War On Drugs.”  We created harsh and unjust laws that targeted people of color in this country and developed police tactics that were on par with our military operations on the enemy’s turf.  I know the Detroit Police were looking for a suspect in the heinous murder

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