“Revenge will not bring Ashanti Riley back.”
This was the reminder given by Pastor Steve Riley during his sermon at the teenager’s funeral today, at the Mt D’or Seventh Day Adventist church.
Pastor Riley noted the 18-year-old’s funeral room place one day after the fifth anniversary of another murdered woman’s funeral—Shannon Banfield.
He said the manner of these murders sometimes made him feel like abandoning theology and stepping into vigilantism.
However, during the sermon, he again made calls for an end to violence against women, as he pointed out that Ashanti Riley’s death also brought back painful memories for families of other victims who befell similar fates.
“Women’s lives matter. Ashanti’s life matters. Krystal’s life matters. Shannon Banfield’s life matters,” said the pastor, who is Riley’s cousin, as he stressed that even with improved legislation, it was up to the people to act with the required decency.
“I am here to strike at the heart of the matter. And the heart of the matter is all men,” he said, as he explained that it didn’t matter if the driver had a badge or not, it would all depend on his character.
“Ashanti trusted that she was in a safe seat, but she was not aware that the driver had crossed the floor,” he said.
Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and Minister in the Ministry of Education Lisa Morris-Julian attended the funeral, and signed the condolence memorial upon arrival.
Riley’s teacher at Aranguez North Secondary School, Amerika Mutroo, who joined with her classmates in wearing t-shirts bearing her image in memorial, sang in honour of her student during the service.
Aaliyah Riley, the teenager’s sister, and Nanyamka Wellington delivered the Eulogy.