Andrew Dys

130-plus march to end Rock Hill violence, seek ‘justice for Toya’

Latoya Cureton’s family and friends released balloons in her memory Saturday following the march.
Latoya Cureton’s family and friends released balloons in her memory Saturday following the march.

There was a parade in Rock Hill Saturday that was unique – the family who organized it hope they never hold another one.

Nobody wants another march about murder.

Yet the young and the old, those who have lost people to bullets and gunshots and those who just plainly have had enough of killing in Rock Hill’s streets, marched Saturday in honor of Latoya Cureton, who was fatally shot, with hopes that there will never be a need for another march.

More than 130 people marched because Cureton was gunned down Aug 5. They walked three blocks from Saluda Street to a city park across the street from where Cureton was found dead.

Police have interviewed several people but have made no arrests in the crime where Cureton was shot several times. Investigators have asked for the public’s help to solve the crime.

Cureton, 27, was found behind a vacant home on Green Street, just three blocks south of Rock Hill City Hall.

“Justice for Toya!” was the refrain of the marchers, followed by “Stop the violence!”

The unsolved killing continues to haunt her family and friends. Many who knew Latoya Cureton came Saturday to opposegun violence that continues to affect the city. In the same neighborhood in the same week last month – in what police say are unconnected cases – one man was shot dead and another group of people were sprayed with bullets.

“She was a great person - a great friend, I talked to her every day,” said Lateace Chisholm, 29, of Cureton. “What happened to her should not happen to anyone. There is no reason for it.”

Chisholm said the code of silence in the streets of not talking to police, or cooperating with detectives trying to solve serious crimes, must end.

“People need to step up and not be afraid, and tell what they know,” Chisholm said. “This violence needs to stop. The killing, it needs to stop.”

Cureton’s family organized the “Justice for Toya” march for Cureton, and other victims of violent crimes. Cureton’s aunt, Liz McKnight, told the crowd that the march intended to show that Cureton did not die in vain, that her death, like all violent killings, brings nothing but heartache and suffering.

Her uncle, Northwestern High School teacher assistant and football coach William “Q-Rock” Cureton, passionately told the crowd that only together can the community stand against violence. He told people that Rock Hill Police Department detectives handling the case, need people with courage to come forward and help solve the crime – and others that remain unsolved.

Rose Cureton, the family matriarch, Latoya Cureton’s grandmother, vowed the effort to stop the violence would not end until families such as hers did not have to hold such events.

Rock Hill patrol officersled and backed the march with police cars, not just for traffic safety but to show solidarity with the people.

There were prayers at the park and balloons were released. There were hugs and tears.

The reality of why there are marches to end violence, marches to stop the killing, marches for justice, is always that one less person goes home at the end.

Violence and guns and bullets never are praised and remembered at any march, any vigil, any parade. But the havoc those guns bring is remembered forever, by the smiling picture of the dead on a shirt instead of in real life.

As Lateace Chisholm said of her best friend Latoya Cureton, now gone: “Sometimes I still call her number - and I know that she will never pick up.”

Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065

Have information?

Crimestoppers: Anyone with information about the Aug. 5 killing of Latoya Cureton is asked to call York County Crimestoppers at 1-877-409-4321.