ATLANTA — A well-known and widely-admired Atlanta community advocate and activist died this week.
Friends told 11Alive Haroun Wakil, the founder of the West End Street Groomers group, experienced an apparent seizure and was found unresponsive.
In 2017, 11Alive's Neima Abdulahi profiled Wakil, who founded the Street Groomers group as a way to self-police and clean up the neighborhood after his own run-ins with law enforcement when he was younger.
“We come from the streets. And we want to save other young people in the streets,” he said.
After his passing, a number of figures remembered his towering presence on Twitter.
Atlanta Councilman Antonio Brown wrote in a tweet: "I can’t stop the tears from falling. Today we lost a brother, a friend, a hero to Atlanta, who fought relentlessly & fearlessly for fair treatment of ALL Atlantans. He was literally the force behind my run for @atlcouncil. I’m heartbroken. Rest In Power Haroun Shahid Wakil."
Georgia NAACP president Rev. James Woodall he was "truly one that we ALL looked up to."
"The people have lost a giant," Woodall said on Twitter. "The streets have lost a servant. The City of Atlanta has lost a legend. Haroun Shahid Wakil was truly one that we ALL looked up to - both figuratively and literally. His heart and love for our people was endless beyond understanding."
Hillary Holley, the organizing director for Stacey Abrams' Fair Fight group, said he "loved the people of Atlanta."
"His mission was to support Black youth that the city is now trying to lock away & throw away the key," she said. "He was a special soul that you could count on, & a soul that wasn’t afraid to challenge the #MythofTheBlackMecca. Rest in Power, Haroun."
In 2017, Wakil told Neima that his mission was one borne out of love - for his city, and for its people.
“Sometimes [it’s about] telling these young people you love them. Let them know somebody cares about them, instead of putting them down,” he said. “The way we’re going to save our community is by saving our kids."