BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Killed because they had the courage to speak up. A decade after the Dawson family was firebombed in a retaliation attack, the community gathered to honor them.

Kai Jackson has more on the progress made against witness intimidation since the Dawson tragedy.

Speakers say the best way to honor the Dawson family is to protect neighborhoods and provide a future to children living in their legacy.

On a crisp October night, community members, elected leaders and others gathered in East Baltimore to remember one of the worst tragedies in the city’s history.

“This was a national story,” said Pamela Carter.

The story was heartbreaking. Parents Angela and Carnell Dawson and their five children were firebombed and killed Oct. 16, 2002, in the middle of the night inside their Preston Street home.

“One of the saddest things I’ve ever witnessed was going to the funeral, seeing those caskets lined up,” said Congressman Elijah Cummings.

The crime was retaliation for Angela Dawson’s complaints of drug dealing in her neighborhood. The story outraged America and was a watershed moment in protecting families and fighting a “Stop Snitching” culture with lawbreakers intimidating law-abiding citizens.

The Dawson Safe Haven for Children, Youth & Families was constructed where their home once stood.

In the 10 years since the Dawson family tragedy, city and community leaders agree that this neighborhood has been transformed. They attribute that to the community center.

“In the Dawson Center, we have been blessed for these five years with a group of wonderful children. They are all growing well. They are 95 percent honor roll students in the center,” Carter said.

“The Dawson family was a good family. That they were courageous, that they were brave. They stuck together through thick and thin,” said family friend Dominic Harris.

The Dawson Family Resource Center also provides emergency housing assistance and educational and job training.

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