St. Petersburg City Council passes resolution to create sidewalk mural in memory of gun violence victim

PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) — Petersburg City Council passed a resolution Tuesday night authorizing the creation of a sidewalk mural in memory of one of the recent victims of gun violence earlier this month.

Diane Branzelle said July 2 is a day she can never get out of her mind. It was the day her daughter, Toni Knight, 19, was shot and killed outside her Perry Street flat while delivering groceries.

“I relive the call, and I relive halfway through and my brother calling me and telling me she’s gone,” Branzelle said.

Branzelle said that for those who didn’t know her daughter, her family was everything.

“My daughter was the most genuine, intelligent, family-oriented person you could ever meet,” Branzelle said.

She said that unfortunately at the time Toni was shot she was with her two young cousins.

Branzelle said a bullet fragment hit one in the head and the other held Toni’s hand as she died outside her apartment.

It’s a loss that some family members, including Toni’s godson, are still processing.

“He called her Carri, and he called her Stinka, and he came all the time. And he loved her so much, and he misses her,” Branzelle said. “I’ll tell you now, he picks up his pictures around the house, and he carries them around, and he’s so protective of his pictures.”

As a memorial continues to grow outside the Artistspace Lofts, some building artists have called on the city to change its code to allow a sidewalk mural in Toni’s memory.

“We can’t fight crime, but we want to put down some art, and you know, beautify the situation,” one of the artists involved in the mural told the city council.

City council passed the resolution on Tuesday evening; something Branzelle said she was grateful for but still wanted justice for her daughter.

“I want it to be there for the future,” Branzelle said. “But I need the violence to stop.”

On Tuesday, Petersburg police said there had been only one arrest, 19-year-old Delvin Mitchell, in connection with the shooting.

Branzelle said she knew someone who knew more and was asking them to come forward.

“Those who stood there and watched what happened. I need you all to come forward and do my baby justice because if it was any of you I would do the same,” Branzelle said.

According to the resolution, the artists hope to complete the mural by July 30.

Additionally, on July 30, a Stop the Violence Community Festival will be held at 550 Farmer Street in memory of every victim lost to gun violence.

Toni’s family said they would be hosting a ride that day in honor of Toni’s memory with the Changin Lanez Auto Club and Against All Odds Motorcycle Club. They invite everyone to come up and will leave at 2:30 p.m. at 2338 E. Washington Street.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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