Dominick Calsolaro

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Crime prompts Albany vigil

Published on 10/8/2009 by the Times Union written by PAUL NELSON, Staff writer

ALBANY -- In her 20 years in the city's First Ward, Vickie Smith has seen the ups and downs in this diverse neighborhood of brownstones off Madison Avenue.

But the daylight stabbing Wednesday of Edward Duffy, 19, adjacent to her home and rental property, located side by side, is unsettling to this 49-year old mother of two.

"Do I feel worried and harm? No, but I don't want children to feel that stress," said Smith afterward. She was among about three dozen neighborhood residents at a candlelight vigil held near the knifing a few hours after it happened. A police car's lights and yellow police crime tape that remained at the scene were visible from where the crowd gathered at Grand Street and Ash Grove Place.

Smith told the crowd, which included many young children, including her own daughter, that "ignorance and poverty is not an excuse to take from someone."

She acknowledged, that institutional problems have to be addressed in order to curb violence in urban America.

Mike Guidice, 29, credited his 5-year-old daughter Aurora Sikelianos with coming up with the idea for the vigil, which included ecumenical prayers and words of peace.

Aurora told the crowd that after hearing about the stabbing, she just wanted peace on her block. To spread the word, she and her father knocked on neighbors' doors.

Councilman Dominick Calsolaro said he was buoyed by the turnout.

"There is a lot of support, people here love their community, and they want it to be safe," he said, adding that he hoped the violence was more of "an aberration than an indication of the neighborhood going backward and not forward."

He said police told him Duffy was doing well after surgery at Albany Medical Center Hospital.

Police found the man in a pool of blood near the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Grand Street after an apparent street fight. He was stabbed in the chest. Police had not made any arrests yet.

As the vigil broke up, Smith asked her neighbors, "so what's next, doesn't have to be answered tonight, just putting it out there."