High-profile gang memorial in Visitacion Valley 

The body of a slain suspected gang member was paraded down some of Visitacion Valley’s meaner streets in a glass-enclosed casket April 11, and police intervened to keep the procession from heading into the territory of a rival gang.

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Following the packed April 11 funeral of 21-year-old Diondre “D-Nice” Young — who police called a leader of the vicious Towerside gang — throngs of mourners, a marching band, and a three-wheeled Harley Davidson motorcycle towing a white casket in a glass-enclosed trailer paraded down Sunnydale Avenue.

Neighborhood tensions were high after Young was found shot dead March 30 under the San Francisco end of the Bay Bridge.

Nerves were especially rattled after members of Towerside’s rival, the Down Below Gangsters, taunted mourners at a makeshift memorial for Young, Ingleside Police Station Capt. Dan Mahoney said. The memorial was located directly on the border of the rival gang’s territory.

Police and community members criticized the decision to hold such a funeral for the member of a gang locked in a war allegedly responsible for more than 10 killings during a three-year period starting in 2007.

“This is who the community decides to hold up as someone honored?” Mahoney said. “I want to see a single mother of two, working every day, doing homework with her kids … that’s who I’d want paraded around.”

In response to the memorial, Mahoney said he saturated the area with patrols and met with community leaders to keep the peace. But on the day of the parade, there was fear that mourners would bring the casket into the territory of the rival gang.

“We reached out to them to advise that they were not to go to the Sunnydale — and they agreed,” Mahoney said. Instead, they circled several blocks near Rey Street that are claimed by the gang of the deceased.

Rev. Ishmael Burch, who led the parade and presided over Young’s funeral, said roughly 300 people attended. Police put the number at about 60.

Burch said the parade was meant to honor a beloved community member.

“The community needed to heal,” he said. “We allowed that to happen … because it was so far apart.”

The reverend said such funeral parades don’t happen often because they aren’t cheap. The total cost was about $3,000, including more than $1,200 for the motorcycle and trailer and another $800 for the marching band.

“Diondre was a loving young man,” Burch said, adding that growing up in the projects made him “guilty by association.”

Mahoney said tensions between the gangs have eased since Young’s killing. Police continue to monitor the situation closely, Mahoney said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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