Pastor Raphael knows many of the neighborhood kids. He said one boy told him he had seen Summers laying there wounded hours before anyone called police.
“He had this fear of calling the police. He wanted something to be done and he said he knew that kid and he just felt he couldn’t call the police that he wouldn’t be treated right or he would be considered a suspect if he called to report it, which a tragedy,” Raphael said.
This reminds of something that happened to me a few years back. It was probably some time late in 2006. I was finishing up some work on the house in the front yard and was hosing off brushes. A kid who looked to be in middle school came up to me and asked me if I could walk him home. He seemed timid and frightened but I can’t tell you how many red flags went off in my head. I thought for sure I was being set up for something. I was somewhat new to the neighborhood and a neighbor I had at the time was constantly telling me how mad it was and how we were “urban pioneers” by even living there. I still thought critically about things but still, hearing things over and over again affects your sub-conscious to a degree. So my guard was up more than maybe it should have been.*
I asked the kid a few questions. First, “why do I need to walk you home?”
He said he was out after curfew and was afraid of the police. That seemed like a legit fear. I asked where he lived and he gave a decent enough answer, on Hendee a few blocks up and a few blocks over, probably 8 blocks total. I asked him where he was coming from and he said his grandmother’s house across the river. That seemed legit too. I asked how it was that he was out after curfew and he said the ferry was late. At that time the ferry schedule was pretty bad so that seemed to check out.
My neighborhood isn’t too bad but it gets worse the closer one gets to Hendee. A few murders had happened there and it was a hot spot on the crime map. I didn’t want to walk this kid through there for my sake more than his. But he didn’t want to walk in the Point any more than he had to either.
So I told him I’d drive him home. No go. He didn’t want to. I guess that was reasonable on his part because I could take him anywhere once he got in the car right?
What convinced me to go with him more than anything was he looked scared. Maybe scared of getting in trouble but mostly it seemed he was scared of the cops themselves.
So we walked. All the way through the rest of the Point. We talked but I don’t remember about what. Some people hollered at us and we got some strange looks from everyone outside the Newton Market. At the corner of Whitney and Newton, I asked him how much further and he said he only lived a few blocks more and I asked him if it was okay to finish off the rest of the walk on his own. “Why?” he asked. “For the same reason you didn’t want to walk up to this spot, I don’t want to go any further. I’m scared.” This reply seemed to satisfy him.
More in his own neighborhood and more comfortable it seems, he agreed to do the rest on his own and seemed in better spirits as he crossed the street on toward his block. His demeanor having altered greatly. He didn’t seem scared or vulnerable any more.
I’ll never know if I was being set up for something or not. I’ll never know what would have happened if I had walked him all the way home or what may have happened on the way back alone. I believe nothing.
Point is, this kid was scared of the cops and took a chance on a complete stranger rather than those sworn to serve and protect him. I only wish the kid in the story above had told a stranger about what he saw. I wish more that he felt comfortable going to the police.
* That neighbor has since moved away. We had a falling out not long after and I stopped talking to him but those that do said he’s thinking about moving back to New Orleans. I am so happy the rest of us “pioneers” got the place back together for him just in time.