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Violence Takes Ongoing Toll In Black Community

 Philadelphia Tribune, News Report, Larry Miller

PHILADELPHIA -- The murder of Blease Eric Burno was one of those tragedies that has become all too familiar in Philadelphia — a young Black man cut down in the prime of life because of an argument.

Burno, 24, was a bouncer at a nightclub and he was one of two people shot within a 24-hour period at Germantown nightspots. His mother, Cheryl L. Stone, said her family is still suffering emotionally from her son’s killing.

“I lived with him and his wife after I lost my home a year ago,” Stone said.

Burno was the father of three children: two boys and a girl. “I used to see my son everyday, now I’ll never see him again,” Stone said. “It’s still very bad for everyone, especially his children.”

It happened on the night of Feb. 20, 2010, inside the Upper Deck Club in the 5700 block of Germantown Avenue near Chelten Avenue. According to police, Burno was shot multiple times in the chest around 5:15 a.m. He was pronounced dead on location by medics.

Dozens of patrons were inside the club when the gunman opened fire, causing people to run for cover. L&I officials have since shut down the club.

On that same day police arrested a suspect in the fatal shooting, Easton Belle, 28, of Clearfield Street, and charged him with murder and related offenses. But police still think Belle didn’t act alone and are still looking for a second suspect; that name has not yet been released by authorities.

“My son was licensed to work with firearms and actually managed to return fire after he was hit,” Stone said.

Burno’s murder has left a void in the life of his family. His slaying, like that of so many young Black men, diminishes the Black community.

Recently, Chicago Sun-Times columnist John W. Fountain commented that young Black men have become their own worst enemy; killing each other at a rate that exceeds the Ku Klux Klan lynchings.

“The Tuskegee Institute in Alabama recorded 3,446 lynchings of blacks from 1882 to 1968 — the toll of 86 years,” Fountain said in the published editorial. “The toll of Blacks murdered in Chicago alone over 18 years, from 1991 to 2009: nearly 9,500, and counting.”

In Philadelphia from 2006 to 2009 there were 1,196 Black men killed by other Black men, according to Police Department statistics. This week on Tuesday night, four young Black males were wounded by gunfire in unrelated incidents. One of them, a 14-year old by the name of Jerome Carlyle was killed by multiple gunshot wounds.

Stone said she collapsed from grief when she arrived at the location where her son was killed. She was coming off her shift at the St. Ignatius Nursing Home when she got the fateful call from her daughter in law.

“I was at work, just coming off shift when she called me. I left work and went to the scene and it was just a nightmare,” she said. “Blease my only son. It’s like his death wasn’t real, like it wasn’t happening. I collapsed while I was out there because I just couldn’t take the grief. This has been hard on all of us.”

There will be a prayer vigil held for Blease Burno and all the families affected by violence in the Black community on Thursday, August 19 in front of the Upper Deck Club in the 5708 Block of Germantown Avenue. The vigil will be from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m.



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