Notebook

Fifteen year-old Daniel Johnson had been in the backseat of that car. He had been riding with two other youths about his age and a mother and her two small children. A bullet had smacked into the car. Daniel had slumped onto the shoulder of a friend next to him, bleeding from a mortal wound… The killings happened after an argument between two women mushroomed, resulting in a face-off between two youths, both with gang ties. The bigger youth threw a punch at the smaller one. The smaller one left. He returned with his mother and stepfather and a group of friends, loaded in several cars. The parents  later explained that they had wanted the two youths to have a fist-fight to settle the score. Such a response might seem crazy. But in Southeast, cases of parents personally escorting their kids to “catch a fade” – to fight- were not so unusual. Encouraging so-called fair fights was seen as a hedge against homicide: parents sought to ensure that their sons weren’t labelled “punks”, which might increase their risk of getting shot. The results were predictable. The caravan rolled up the street – “came in thick”, as one witness later said. The local gang members hollered, “Get outta  the ‘hood!” The intruders yelled back. More yells. Then gunshots.

Jill Leovy, “Ghettoside”.

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