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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Musicians against violence: The Reggae community honors the life of Leigh

Written by Meghan Kelly

Death is never easy to take. What is easier - knowing its coming, or the sudden shock of it all? Neither if you ask the loved ones left behind.

Woodlands tavern hosted the first of what will be an annual memorial event for Leigh L. Belyn; a fresh faced, happy 18 year old whose life was cut short by tragedy. Leigh, a 2011 New Albany High School graduate on her way to The Ohio State University to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse was murdered at her home August 2011 by her boyfriend Juvon Williams, who was later killed by gunfire by police. Leigh and Juvon had a fight the night before the murder after she declined a marriage proposal and ended their relationship.  Williams was being deployed to Afghanistan and wanted to take Leigh with him as his wife. Instead Leigh decided she would take a different path and he ended her life over it. 

After Williams came back from basic training and adjusting to the military lifestyle he was a different person- a similar reaction most people have when a loved one returns after such a dramatic lifestyle change. He began driving up to see Leigh every chance he got and the two would spend most of her senior year together, isolated. “What seemed like routine young love appeared more controlling…” said Celeste, Leigh’s mother, after the killing. It were these little patterns of control that Celeste was able to piece together after the tragedy; so that in the future, she hopes to educate parents and their children about early warning signs of control and manipulation that can lead to an abusive relationship.

Reggae music brings people of all walks of life together. So when tragedy struck one of their family members the community rallied around the family and decided to do something about it. It wasn’t just about musicians against violence, but more about people for peace and the promotion of nonviolence.  Terri Bob, Leigh’s father is one of the founders of the strong Reggae community in Columbus. As a drummer for the oldest Reggae group in Ohio, The Ark Band, Terri told me that while it was such a beautiful night, filled with such sense of support and family it is merely a temporary band aid for the pain that he feels over his daughter’s death. 

In a nation where the norm has become murder and homicide as its top stories of the night, when and how can we make it all stop? The U.S leads the industrialized world in murder and violent crime on a regular basis not by a wave but a tsunami. We buy our children, and sometimes at a very young age, video games based solely on reality stimulated killing and war. We continually allow our government to go to war in the name of democracy and peace around the world, when we have a devastating war going on daily in our homes, neighborhoods and glorified across all aspects of our media driven culture. 

The S.A.V.E (Strategies against violence everywhere) has helped Leigh’s family set up the memorial fund. A 16 year old, Columbus based non-profit S.A.V.E has been actively advocating the ever growing and peaceful nonviolent movement which has recently gained popularity in the Columbus community due to the increase in gang presence and gun related incidents. Our future generation is suffering for the over acceptance and encouragement of fire arms we hold so dearly as a national right of freedom.

Little boys are brought, taught and encouraged to play with guns and swords while we dress our daughters up in pink, buy them kitchen sets and baby dolls. Then we wonder why a boy, trained to kill at a fragile developmental stage of growth, could possess the capacity to kill after he spent years manipulating a young girl whose “real dream” of cooking and babies could come true if only she’d marry him. Two young lives full of promise simply cut short. 

But at this moment, without looking for blame we move on.  At this moment and united as a community, we must educate future generations about the negative effects media can have on them and strive for more productive, positive and proactive ways in dealing with their problems.
Death is hard and life is short. But while we are here on earth, let us spend our time loving each other and working together to create a community that we will be proud to leave the future generations. 

Meghan Kelly
Staff Writer, BusTown Music

BusTown Music Arts & Community is produced by DP Krukrubo
Music by: Mark Hunter (Lead singer of The Ark Band)
The 'Musicians Against Violence' Benefit concert was masterfully produced by Brian Cunningham & Eric Jones, Thank you.

Special Thanks also to...
LPI Entertainment for organizing the 'Musicians Against Violence' Benefit Concert
Kurt Monnier and Listening Lamp Productions
Thanks to Woodlands Tavern for hosting such an amazing show

Big thanks to the Columbus community for supporting 'Musicians Against Violence'

Photo courtesy of Angie Leonard


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