When a group of ex-offenders spoke to Roxborough High School students about the dangers of bad life choices Jan. 14, the message was simple: “One in five [of you] will not be alive by the time you’re 21.” Two of them didn’t last four weeks.
In the case of standout basketball star Rashawn Anderson, an 18-year-old killed last Tuesday, community activists blamed an ongoing beef between neighborhoods that has gotten so heated that his funeral services had to be moved to prevent retaliation. Tomorrow, there’s a community meeting at Abbotsford Homes to address problems between youths there and those in the area of 32nd and Allegheny.
“We tried to get a hold on it early last year at a community meeting, the principal and police were there,” said Greg Brinkley, an Abbotsford community activist. “I specifically said I was concerned somebody was going to get killed. Now, somebody’s been killed.”
Police offered no updates on the Anderson case, or the unrelated circumstances that led to Christopher Foster, another 18-year-old student, being shot dead on Jan. 19. Speaking about the Anderson homicide, Brinkley said, “The neighborhood knows what happened. Police know too.”
Malik Aziz, who led the assembly, said follow-up on behalf of both parents and the schools is missing. The Abbotsford/Allegheny rift goes back to the days when he and Brinkley ran in the same gang there. They claim it followed students to school, leading to the assembly.
“If we don’t do something about it, I know there will be more killings,” Brinkley said.
Getting the point across
Cliff Skinner, who served 15 years in prison for murder, was among the speakers at the Roxborough assembly last month. He finds the lack of conflict-resolution follow-up “very disturbing,” but deferred to his 16-year-old son when asked how to get the message across.
“If we hear it with no sugarcoating, nine out of 10 listen. …But, some are so far out there that it’s too late,” the teen said.