Dawson family members remembered 15 years after their death

All 7 members killed in retaliation firebombing
Posted at 11:34 PM, Oct 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-17 04:26:34-04

On October 16, 2002, The Dawson Family home in East Baltimore was firebombed.  Monday, on the 15th anniversary of their death, the community came together to honor them. 

Carnell and Angela Dawson along with their five children were killed.  Monday, that legacy stands strong through The Dawson Safe Haven Center.     

On the same block with broken windows, a death memorial and boarded up abandoned houses, there sits a safe haven where the kids of this neighborhood can be just that, kids.

The story of how the center came to be is a tragic one. Outraged over continued crime and drug dealing near their home The Dawsons took a stand; they were met with a firebomb on 15 years ago.

"After the Dawson family, who didn't want drug dealers sitting on their steps between the Baltimore Police Department, the State's Attorney's office and our office, we developed an intimidated witness program," Deputy Housing Commissioner, Reggie Scriber, told ABC2.

But the center is the family's greatest legacy what was once their home has now been for the last 12 years, The Dawson Safe Haven Center.

 "I got custody of my niece and i didn't have anywhere to put her after school and somebody told me about this place," said Cyntheria Robinson, a parent from East Baltimore. 

The place that helps close to 40 kids a day stay off the street. More than 800 families have been assisted since 2002.  

"She was having self esteem issues so it opened her up she's a happy kid.  During the summer, it helped out because they were open most of the summer so i didn't have to worry about finding care," Robinson said.

Parents say the center has made all the difference in their lives.

 "I don't feel safe with just taking here anywhere.  They look after them, they take them places they do things with them, they make sure they do their homework  and that's what I need.  I'm a single parent, i need all the help I can get," said parent Artis McDaniel

The hope is the center will also help decrease crime in a neighborhood no stranger to it. 

"We see some evidence of that in this community we still see more of that than we need to see but this is still something we're going to work on to get things accomplished here," Scriber said.

Close to 40 kids make use of the after school program at the center.  This summer, the center expanded to include teenagers as well.