By Mike Kinney
“She was a beautiful rose.”
Norvi Dzidzornu, 37, murdered in the homeless encampment where she resided in the Richmond Greenway on Sunday, June 14, was remembered Monday as a loyal, caring person who was loved in her community during a moving vigil at the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP) shelter.
Dzidzornu served as an outreach worker for MASK-Healing Circles, and would work closely with women who were victims of domestic violence, according to Charlene Harris, founder of Healing Circles.
Her vigil drew a few dozen community members with speakers including Harris as well as GRIP Executive Director Kathleen Sullivan, community advocates Rodney Alamo Brown and Antwon Cloird of Soulful Softball Sunday, City of Richmond Crime Prevention Manager Michelle Milam and Robert Rogers, district coordinator with Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia’s office.
Also in attendance was Dzidzornu’s sister, Awura-Amani Dzidzornu, who spoke of the great love she had for Norvi.
“She was very loyal to people who she was connected to and cared for,” her sister said.
A memorial garden at GRIP was established for Dzidzornu as well as for Bayon Jr. Ellison, a homeless person who was recently killed by a train.
“Our GRIP staff picked the rose plant for our memorial garden to honor Norvi because they all agreed: She was a sweet as as a rose,” Sullivan said.
Richmond police are meanwhile investigating her murder. A suspect hasn’t been named. The killing occurred during the early morning hours on Sunday. Police were called to the scene at 10 a.m. that day and found her body in her tent. Dzidzornu had reportedly been staying in Carlson Meadow for roughly 13 months, and had previously lived in an encampment across from the GRIP shelter at 22nd Street in Richmond, before the city closed the encampment.
Cloird said the trauma suffered by the city’s homeless population should prompt additional services to assist them.
“I’m sure each one of us that’s here has felt the pain that this family is experiencing right now,” Brown said.
Rogers, who published a great video capturing the event, said GRIP is a tightly-knit community.
“Because it has to be,” Rogers said. “You have to be there for one another.”
With the aim of ensuring Dzidzornu and Ellison remain unforgotten, Cloird announced an intention to fund a plaque with their names at the garden memorial “as long as GRIP is here.”