About 250 family members and friends attended the funeral of Jesse Clarke on Saturday, mourning the death of the 14-year-old who was killed in an east-end stabbing in Hamilton on Monday.
Clarke was stabbed during a brawl between two groups of young men near the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Gordon Street, just north of Barton Street East, according to police.
He was taken to hospital and later pronounced dead, making him Hamilton's sixth homicide victim in 2014.
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Outside the Dermody’s Funeral Home Saturday afternoon, family members and friends doused themselves in incense before heading into the funeral home.
Next to the lineup, a group of drummers from the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre performed a rite of passage ceremony.
He Carries The Strength Of Two Buffalos, a drummer, said Clarke had been an active member of the youth group at the centre “for years.”
Located on Ottawa Street, the centre has helped Jesse with “what he was going through,” He Carries the Strength of Two Buffalos said.
“Just normal teenage stuff, whatever problem they have with school, problem with homework, problem with parents,” he told CBC News.
Fan of skateboarding
Following the funeral, the group marched along King Street to Beasley Park, a place where Clarke used to hang out and practice skateboarding.
“He loves teaching people skateboarding,” said friend Jesse Egan, 19, wearing a custom-made T-shirt with the print “R.I.P. Solo,” a nod at Clarke's nickname.
“He's a good dude. He always helps people.”
Sporting baseball caps, sneakers and tank tops, many of the friends who attended Clarke's funeral appeared to be as young as the teenage boy. A few of them brought skateboards with them.
Percy Hockton, one of the owners of the Dermody’s Funeral Home, said the young people were respectful.
“They deserve a lot of credit,” Hockton said.
Brodie Nicholls, 18, faces a second-degree murder charge in connection with the stabbing.
He appeared in court Tuesday afternoon with a large abrasion on his neck. He was remanded back into custody and will appear in court again on Sept. 2.
Police caution retaliation
According to Charmaine Miller, Nicholls's foster mother, at least a dozen young men showed up at at her home Monday evening armed with metal pipes and bats. They started yelling and then threw things at her and her house.
A neighbour told CBC News she saw three men strike Nicholls with pipes.
Both Nicholls and his foster mother were “known to police,” according to Det. Sgt. Matt Kavanagh with Hamilton police. However, defence lawyer Beth Bromberg said Nicholls does not have a criminal record.
There was no indication that Clarke was one of the armed men.
Kavanagh also cautioned any teens who might consider retaliation in the wake of Clarke’s death. Messages of grief and anger have been posted online since Clarke's death, with some threatening revenge.
“The kids that we interviewed — we’re trying to discourage retaliation,” Kavanagh said. “It’s not going to solve anything.”