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Grief for the City's Slain Children

The day before she died, police questioned her about the killing she apparently had witnessed -- which police say revolved around the sale of a marijuana cigarette treated with PCP -- but she provided authorities with no information on the incident.

Another side of Princess emerged at the services yesterday, that of a girl who enjoyed playing basketball, "doing hair," following fashion and singing and dancing. She had turned 14 on Christmas Day.


Friends and relatives of Princess Hansen, including her mother, Judyann Hansen at far right, prepare to release balloons in Princess's honor after her funeral. (Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)

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"She'll never get a chance to see graduation day. She'll never get a chance to turn the statistics and prove she is somebody," said Young, going on to exhort the mourners to help youths to "put down the gun, pick up a pen and fill out a job application."

Some speakers had a direct message to the youths who remain behind.

"If you want to make a difference, young people, I've said it before, I will say it at every funeral I go to, give your life to God now," said Massie at James's funeral.

"Stop talking and just listen to me," the school superintendent continued. "Stop fighting. Stop talking about it. Stop fussing with each other. Take the burden off, the weight off this community. Take the burden off the family. Get your lives together. That's all you can do."

School board member William Lockridge, whose District 4 includes Ballou and who is a longtime friend of the Richardson family, also admonished the young mourners.

"We can provide services. We can give you the best education. We can do it all. But you've got to make choices, and the choices cannot be death," he said. "It's up to you to turn the streets around of Washington, D.C."


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