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  • Hundreds gather to remember Dante Parker

    36-year-old was a happy young man, cousin says
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  • LOS ANGELES — Resounding messages of manhood and unity emerged at Saturday’s funeral for Dante Parker, a Victorville man who died in the custody of San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies after being stunned with a Taser multiple times on Aug. 12.
    Sheriff’s officials said Parker was a suspect in an attempted home burglary on the afternoon of Aug. 12 as he was riding his bicycle. A Sheriff’s Department news release stated Parker was stunned “multiple times” with a Taser after he became “uncooperative and combative.” He was taken into custody and transported to Victor Valley Global Medical Center for treatment, where he later died.
    Hundreds gathered at Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles on Saturday morning to remember Parker.
    “Greatness is becoming the man he became with the circumstances he had,” a friend of Parker said Saturday. “He was a great father and a great husband. ... There are so many absentee (fathers); he proved a lot of doubters wrong.”
    Parker left behind four daughters and one son, along with his wife, Bianca, who he had known since middle school.
    At least a dozen friends and family lined up to stand at the pulpit and reflect on the life of the Daily Press employee. Their reflections stirred reactions from joyful laughter to inconsolable wails of sadness from hundreds that filled the nearly 130-year-old Baptist church.
    Pastor Debra Jackson led the service after the reflections and stressed unity, brotherhood and the importance of music in the African-American community. Music played a large role at the service; multiple songs were played along with an a cappella performance of a personal rendition of Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me,” by one of Parkers’ cousins, and a replay of one of Parker’s original raps.
    “I refuse to be another black statistic … I refuse to let my people be temporary,” Parker said in his rap.
    The message was echoed by Jackson, who told the congregation they need to ban together and “reissue” the “bounced check America has issued” the African-American community.
    “We have been through hell and high water in this beautiful country called America,” said Jackson. “We want to do something with the anger within us … and Dr. King showed us a better way. If America gave us a check and it bounced, it is our responsibility to reissue it, but in a way that won’t cause any bloodshed. We need to take a higher ground.”
    A sermon by Pastor Edward Thomas finished off the service and rallied the congregation behind Parker and his life, attesting to the fact that Parker was following something, and imitating Jesus.
    “God said, ‘I will be a father to the father-less,’ ” Thomas said to Parker’s family as he closed.
    The service concluded with a farewell viewing and the releasing of doves.
    “He was a devoted husband and father who enjoyed spending time with his girls,” said Parker’s cousin Briana McCray, who read Parker’s obituary. “Dante was a very happy young man who truly enjoyed life. He left a lasting impression on everyone who met him.”
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