Family and friends of a Southeast Washington woman killed by her estranged boyfriend spent Tuesday night sleeping on the sidewalk in front of the John A. Wilson Building to call attention to domestic violence.
Police arrested her former boyfriend, Roderick A. Ridley, 31, and charged him with second-degree murder while armed.
Siblings William Kellibrew and Manyka Gaither, who grew up with Gates and described themselves as her brother and sister, brought blankets and pillows to bed down outside city hall. Kellibrew and Gaither's mother was killed by her boyfriend 24 years ago. Kellibrew, who witnessed his mother's and brother's death, narrowly escaped being shot himself by the man.
"Victims of violence cannot choose when they are going to get put out of their homes," he said about 10 p.m. last night. "I didn't want to give us a choice, whether it is cold, raining, sleet. We were displaced when we were 10 and 8, so we are here to be displaced one more night to give honor to those who are victims and are trying to rebuild their lives."
Kellibrew said he plans to hold four other sleepouts across the city, and Gaither called on others to get involved.
"They say a family that prays together stays together," she said last night. "Well a community that stays together prays together. I have suffered domestic violence and I took a stand. I suffered along with my sister. You cannot be ashamed of what is going on. You have to be willing to tell the story and get help."
Jacqueline Alison, a friend of Gates who was also out last night, said, "It can stop if we want to equip people with the correct tools so they can educate themselves. It has to stop."
Hamil R. Harris