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Dying in Broad Daylight

December 19, 2012
Rest in peace Devanta.

Rest in peace D.

One of my students from last year was murdered Monday afternoon, shot in broad daylight.

I only had D. in my writing class for a couple weeks. He was bright, quick, smooth. He was good on his feet. He was the first kid that free-styled in my class, and he was good. I watched him play with his baby sister when his family came to school one day, and saw this glimmer of hope for him. He had a good heart. The next week he shook down a kid in our school at Tastee across the street, taking his money, threatening to shoot him if he didn’t bring more tomorrow. The cops were at the school the next day. He transferred to our sister school.

Around the time D. transferred, one of my homeroom students came and talked to me about how scared he was. The cops had been at his house asking about an armed car jacking. He swore he didn’t do it. Two days later, that 15-year-old was arrested. He spent 7 months waiting for a trial. There was no evidence that he had been involved in the car jacking. My homeroom student had an adult alibi testifying on his behalf, and had no idea about the details of the car jacking. Like too many crimes, it was common street knowledge that D. had committed the car jacking.

The day of the trial, the District Attorney had nothing to win his case against my student So the DA approached him and asked him if he had snuck out with D. a couple weeks before the car jacking. He had. The two of them had committed a simple burglary that night. The DA dangled that crime over his head to get him to agree to a lesser charge in the armed car jacking incident even though there was no evidence. The last time I talked to my student’s grandma, she was beside herself. The judge was so angry with the DA that their attorney asked the judge to wait on sentencing. Even taking the lesser charge, he was looking at 7 years.

The whole time my student was in jail last year, D. was out. D. had 2 ankle bracelets already. If he’d taken the armed car jacking charge, he would’ve been put away for sure. So he pinned it on someone else. He saved himself.

But he didn’t.

There is a violent civil war on the streets in New Orleans. The victims and perpetrators are disproportionately young black men. Crime and punishment are both in the hands of uncivilized civilians. As a teacher, you try to show there are other options. It doesn’t have to be like this. Education can be the key to unlocking a bright future. But that’s so far from now. The stakes are so high, right now. The kids are hungry. They’re desperate. They’re alone, and poor, and struggling. And dying.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Teresa Giachino permalink
    December 19, 2012 3:08 pm

    Sunny, I have been following your blog for about a year. You belong in New Orleans. Y
    ou write about these children and their lives with such insight and love. Hopefully one day, for you and them they will have you back.

  2. December 19, 2012 3:12 pm

    oh i am so so sorry. 😦 i know this unfortunately probably no surprise to you but i know it still hurts bad. my thoughts are with you. with his family. and with nola.

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