Civil rights leader joined family and friends in Ocala, Florida, on Monday for the funeral of Ajike “AJ” Owens, a Black mother of four who was shot and killed after she confronted one of her neighbors, who is white.
Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights activist and founder of the New York-based National Action Network, delivered the eulogy at the funeral at Meadowbrook Church in Ocala. The eulogy served as a call to action.
“When they shot at AJ, they were shooting at all of our mothers. And we can’t let this go,” Sharpton said.
He added, “They want to bury what happened to AJ, but we’re not going to be quiet about it. We’re not going away quietly because what happened here is wrong. We have come to stand with this family and to call wrong, wrong.”
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents the family of Ajike Owens, also spoke at the service.
“You can’t kill our loved ones just because of the color of their skin, just because they were living while Black,” Crump said. “We cannot let them kill our loved ones for just knocking on a door, for loving their children, while Black.”
The Marion County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office said that on June 2, Owens went to her neighbor’s house to confront her about allegedly yelling at her children and throwing a rollerblade at one of them because she was upset about where they were playing. The neighbor then fired a gun from her kitchen, striking Owens in the chest. Owens was taken to the hospital where she died.
That neighbor, identified as Susan Louise Lorincz, was arrested on charges of manslaughter with a firearm, culpable negligence, battery and two counts of assault. Lorincz claimed the shooting was self-defense.
During the funeral service, Owens’ children were promised scholarships by local ministers to historically Black colleges in Florida. Owens’ mother, Pamela Dias, said she now has to raise her four young grandchildren, ranging in age from 3 to 12.
“Please don’t let our baby daughter’s death be in vain,” Dias said. “A change must come.”
The family has launched a website to post updates about the case.