Updated: October 16, 2020 10:31 PM
Created: October 16, 2020 10:28 PM
Friday, they gathered on a quiet street corner in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood in Minneapolis to honor and remember a beloved family member.
"To the community, we say thank you for keeping hope alive," one speaker said.
Nearby, there is a memorial, with Abdoulaye Cisse's name written on it, along with the date of his passing: Oct. 16.
One year ago.
"When we think about him, we think about how much we have lost," said Staff Sgt. Alkali Yaffi, a close friend and a member of the Minnesota National Guard. "This is somebody who was a pillar of his community. He was a young guy with enormous potential. So we cannot stand by and see such things happening."
It was at this very spot — at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Southeast Seventh Street — where Cisse was found stabbed to death.
It was his 27th birthday.
"We are mourning," said Lamin Dibba, a friend. "But I want everybody to… I want to celebrate the life. The good-hearted person that he was. The light that he brought into everybody."
One by one, people stepped up to reminisce about Cisse, and how he had impacted so many lives.
Then, there was a moment of silent prayer.
"We lost a family member, and our life will never be the same," declared Fofana Cisse, the 27-year-old's uncle. "This year will never be the same. This day, every year, will never be the same. Whoever did it is at large, and maybe resting with his or her family, their family, and they aren't missing somebody."
"He's my best friend. He was my best friend. My brother," Dibba added.
Authorities say Cisse, a sergeant in the Minnesota National Guard, was walking home in the early morning hours when he was attacked.
Police have not released information about a motive or suspects, but family members believe he encountered someone vandalizing some cars and tried to stop it.
"He was doing what he always [does.] Helping someone else out," Yaffa explained. "Because seeing that they were breaking into somebody's property, somebody's car, he couldn't help it, because that's who he is."
Cisse, who joined the guard in 2014, was called a "bright light" by his friends, with a future in military intelligence.
But there was more.
"He's smart," Yaffa said. "A gifted kid. He speaks both Chinese and French, and also, he was a part of the Delta Company, which is the intel unit for the brigade headquarters."
His fellow guard members honored Cisse on Friday with a special ceremony at the armory in Bloomington.
Back in Marcy-Holmes, family and friends passed out leaflets, asking anyone with information to contact the Minneapolis Police Department or write to a special email address.
"'Cause it's been a year," Dibba said. "We don't want it to become another cold case."
Minneapolis police call the case an 'open and active' investigation. They are asking anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers of Minnesota.
The family, meantime, has announced they have increased the reward for information to $15,000.
A time of remembrance and honor, for a life of promise, cut short.
"He was selfless," Yaffa declared. "He sacrificed to serve the country he loved. So if he happened to die this way, we need to come out and do whatever we can to bring those people to justice."
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