For 45 days, tens of thousands of demonstrators in the U.S. and abroad marched to protest the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Trayvon, who was unarmed and returning from a nearby convenience store in Sanford, Fla., was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, 28.
The protests continued until Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder by a special prosecutor in April.
However, closer to home, there is still no resolution in the District of Columbia where a young boy was shot and killed by an unknown assailant in one of the highest profile cases of former Police Chief Charles Ramsey's tenure.
More than seven years has passed since the shooting and subsequent death of 9-year-old Donte Manning but the Metropolitan Police Department is still seeking information that will lead to an arrest in the case.
Although Donte's memory may have faded from the public consciousness, it still looms large to police and local writer Rose Marie Berger, 48, who authored the book, "Who Killed Donte Manning?" two years ago.
"Donte still haunts me," said Berger of Columbia Heights in Northwest Washington. "Not as a ghost, but as an angel of conscience. His young life and his murder pricks our conscience as a city just like the murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida has turned a mirror to the violence at the soul of our nation."
"The fact that his killer remains free means two things: the first is that there is a young man out there who lives with the murder of a child on his conscience, and he has not made amends to Donte's family or to society for his actions. The second is that violence is so endemic that police are not able or not willing in some cases to pursue justice," Berger said.
Nowadays, the sidewalk and street in front of the historic Warner Apartments in the 2600 block of 13th Street NW – with only two remaining tenants – are quiet, dead quiet unlike the warm spring night of Thursday, March 24, 2005.
On that fateful night, a dozen children played out front, scampering back and forth as they chased each other. They were carefree. Their parents let them toss the football longer than usual because schools were closed the next day. Earlier that day, narcotics officers raided the unit of a suspected drug dealer, and arrested three individuals.
At 9:46 p.m., an unidentified individual appeared on the corner of 13th & Euclid Streets, pulled out a handgun and fired a volley of a half dozen gunshots up the block into the group of children.
Donte, a third- grade student at nearby Meyer Elementary School, was struck in the face. The stray bullet lodged in the back of his skull. He was the only youngster pierced by a bullet. The shooter vanished.
On April 26, Donte died at Children's National Medical Center in Northwest. His funeral at Shiloh Baptist Church drew nearly 500 mourners, many of them young children. Then-Mayor Anthony Williams said, like the community, he was "mystified in trying to understand how we can lose a young life like this."
Who Remembers Donte?
On March 24, 2012, more than 2,000 people gathered on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building in Northwest and spilled out into the street and into Freedom Plaza. They gathered calling for justice for Trayvon and demanding Zimmerman's arrest.
David Bowers, founder of No Murders DC, stirred up the crowd by challenging them to be as energetic in seeking justice for all slain D.C. residents as they had been for Trayvon.
"I hope that for folks who have been very focused on ensuring that justice was done – which is the right thing to do – I hope that they would have that same focus on everyone else who's been murdered," he said. "To ensure that justice is done, we need to be good citizens and alert the authorities."
A reporter canvassing the rally crowd initially found no one familiar with Donte Manning's story. Finally, one person recalled the murder.
"I remember the story very well," said Shawn Gilstrap, who once lived at 12th & Euclid Streets in Columbia Heights. "Far too many black boys and men get killed every day and there's no prosecution."
Gilstrap said he'd "be surprised" if there was a similar rally later that evening to memorialize Donte who was shot seven years to the day. "But I think you can't do enough rallying for Donte."
However, there was no rally to honor Donte that night.
Any and All Leads
"Everyone needs to look at Donte's picture and think about him and his family," said Kris Baumann, head of the D.C. Police Union. "Where are we as a society, when the killer of a nine-year-old boy can walk free because of apathy, fear, or misplaced loyalties? Somebody, somewhere knows what happened and who did this."
Solving Donte's case would send two powerful messages Baumann said.
"The first is to Donte's family; the police care about you and Donte and he is not forgotten. The second is to those [who] killed him and those [who] watched and said nothing. You will be found and you will be held accountable for your actions and your omissions."
D.C. Police Investigators Vow to Solve the Murder
"Donte's case is open and under active investigation," said Lt. Robert Alder, an 18-year veteran of MPD's Homicide Unit. "We have a detective assigned to the case from the Cold Case Unit following up on any and all leads."
According to MPD's website, more than 85 of 2005's 196 homicides remain unsolved. The cases are handled by a dedicated Cold Case Unit which includes nine detectives.
"We have many cold cases under investigation and they are all a priority," Alder said, "but Donte's case has attracted a lot of public attention and still does."
However, information has not been forthcoming, and the police need the public's help. Despite a reward of $125,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of Donte's killer – the highest reward in the city to date – an arrest warrant has never been issued and MPD doesn't have a description they can release, Alder said.
"I do believe it is the largest outstanding reward. All that money is not offered by the police department; some of it has been contributed by private [citizens] who'd like to see the case closed," Alder explained.
"We would encourage anyone who has any piece of information, no matter how small they think it may be, to call us, and not to assume we already [have the] information," he said. "We're not ruling anything out at this point."