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Gun Violence in the Hood

June 2, 2008



Growing up in New York City can really desensitize a person when it comes to violence(among other things). Turning on the evening news you almost expect to hear about violence or some other heinous crime. As is the case in most urban centers, some of us have a front row seat and others are in the skybox getting the report from Sue Simmons. My seating was usually a few rows back but this day I was in the front row, I still have yet to get over…

         The park on fulton street and classon avenue was pretty much non-functional and totally rundown in eighties. At some point in ’89 though, the Parks Department began to renovate the park and it was finally done in ’91.  They re-did the playground, repaved the basketball courts and put up new rims.  So on a particularly sunny day, my friend, my “big homie” and I made our way to the park to shoot some hoops. Being the nice day that it was, fulton street was heavily populated…it took us atleast a half an hour to get to the park from clinton ave. and fulton st. because we were stopping talking to everyone on the way like we were on a grassroots campaign trail.

            We get to the classon right on time, the hoopers are about to play and choosing sides. The teams are set, the game gets started, now we’re off running. The courts in classon park are elevated, so you can clearly see the street while playing. During the game I noticed my friend Yah-Yah ride past on his bike, I shouted to him “aaayooo”  then kept playing, I dont even know if he heard me. The game goes for the next few minutes, I see Yah ride past again, this time going the opposite direction towards Downing street…Suddenly about 7 shots are let off, I drop then get up to see a guy jumping in a car with a gun out, I look a few feet to the right and there’s Yah on the ground along side of his bike. All you could hear was people screaming in distress “Thats Yah-Yah, thats Yah-Yah!”

        We ran down the steps to the street, my big homie propped his head up demanding that he stay strong. Big homie then made Yah continously name who was in front of him to try to keep him conscious, he did as best as he could in a barely audible whisper. The ambulance came to pick him up and the trek back to clinton ave. was longer than it took to get to classon ave. Hours later we got the word that Amir “Yah-Yah” Johnson had been called home, he was 15 years old. Now I won’t lie to you, he wasn’t an angel but never did I think that one of my peers would be killed so young in life. The funeral was at Fairhaven Funeral Home, up the block from where he was murdered which to put mildly made the service very uneasy. Yah was the first friend I lost to gun violence but unfortunately, not the last. I have the news clippings at my mother’s house, I will try to  pick them up to add to this post. The picture above is the view from which I last saw my friend alive…


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