A crowd of hundreds showed up on the front lawn of Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School Wednesday evening to remember Devan Bracci-Selvey, who was stabbed behind his Hamilton school and passed away Monday.
And while much of the focus was on mourning the 14-year-old the emotional crowd rallied behind a powerful anti-bullying message.
Devan’s mother, Shari-Ann Selvey, arrived surrounded by family and friends. She was escorted to the front doors of the school by The Black Hawks Motorcycle Club of Hamilton.
Black Hawks member Kevin Scott spoke to the crowd gathered outside the high school, urging the “young ones” present to use their cell phones to call for help when someone’s in danger.
“Why do your parents give you a cell phone? To call 911 when someone is in trouble. You can save someone’s life,” he said, also noting that standing by and filming is not good enough.
“Devan will not die in vain,” Scott said as he faced Selvey and those that surrounded her. Many of them began crying as he addressed them and urged action on tackling bullying.
Weeping children and adults could be heard throughout the crowd during the hour-long vigil. Students stood facing the crowd with signs decrying bullying and hate.
A group of high school students, including a Grade 9 relative of Devan, spoke about how he was an “innocent” and “friendly” kid who was always willing to help anyone. The students expressed some fear of returning to school after the stabbing, but said it didn’t worry them overall.
With candles held high and “Give Peace a Chance” playing loud, community members participate in a vigil for Devan Bracci-Selvey, who was stabbed outside his high school on Monday and later passed away. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/hamont?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#hamont</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/CBCHamilton?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CBCHamilton</a> <a href=”https://t.co/E8QVsSRuEb”>pic.twitter.com/E8QVsSRuEb</a>
Karen Beattie has lived near the high school in the same house for 34 years and said she was pleased to see such a large turnout. It showed how strong and supportive the community is, she said.
But Beattie wishes Devan had run towards her street for help when he was in danger Monday. She remembers being outside doing yard work at the time of the stabbing, and said she would have protected the boy and warded off the attackers.
“There are always going to be some bad kids no matter where you are,” but what happened to Devan was “horrifying,” Beattie said.
Near the end of the vigil, Dale Tokarchuk thanked the crowd for their support and encouraged everyone to stand up to bullies in the future.
“If you see someone like that skinny little kid in the hall at school … anywhere they may be. And if they’re being bullied, we want you to go up to them and yell at the top of your lungs, stop,” he said.
In a call-and-response fashion, Tokarchuk asked the crowd what they would say to a bully, and they yelled back at him resoundingly, “stop!”
A 14-year-old and an 18-year-old, both males from Hamilton, were charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday.