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December 1, 1998

Tragedy

The Merging of Cultures

Louise by the Cross. Sage McCollum photographed Louise Moseley by the cross where Louise's cousin was killed. © TOTH 1998.
Tuesday, September 14, 1998, seemed like many other nights in the Freedman Quarters of Grand Bay. As usual, I put my son, Vert, to bed at 8:30. I finished my homework, watched some TV, and went outside to visit with friends and family. Who would have known that this night would end in the worst tragedy of my life?

Just before midnight, Kawame and I were standing by her car, visiting. She was about to leave when we saw Kenny and Anthony walking to Uncle Maurice's house. My half-brother, Anthony, was walking Kenny home because their work had been cancelled. Most nights, they would have been at Grand Bay Seafood, packing and labeling crabs for shipment. We called them over. They talked to us about ten minutes then Kenny said, "Well, we're going to head home. Kiss Vert for me." He and my son were close. We all said goodnight. That was the last time I saw my cousin Kenny alive.

Kawame left and I went into the house, took my shower, and went to bed. I fell into a deep sleep after several nights of restlessness. Suddenly my grandmother awakened me saying, "Louise, Louise, wake up!" I got out of bed. I had only been asleep ten minutes and wondered if my grandmother was playing another one of her tricks on me. I went to the bathroom and washed my face with cool water. I felt very angry and confused at the same time. I heard unusual noises outside. So I walked out the front door into our screened porch.

My grandmother was sitting on the front porch crying. My dad, who is also Anthony's father, was running up the road crying loudly as though a great white grizzly had just jumped in front of him. Then I noticed flashing lights down the road, near the pond. I realized the whole neighborhood was up, and it seemed like everyone was crying. Right then I realized that something very bad had happened. As my father entered the yard he was so upset and breathless that he could only say their names, "Kenny" and "Anthony." When he finally came onto the porch, able to speak, he told us Kenny and Anthony had been shot and Kenny didn't survive. When I heard those words come out of his mouth, I felt like someone had kicked me in my stomach. A cluster of emotions overwhelmed me: anger, confusion, and sadness.

For the next couple of hours, I stood on the front porch impatiently waiting for information, hoping that Kenny would be revived. Someone told me Anthony was put into an ambulance. I watched it pass, silently. The lights weren't on and a terrible pain seized my chest. After working on him for nearly an hour I wondered why they weren't rushing him to the hospital. Then as they neared Highway 90, the lights came on and I knew my brother was all right.

It took Kenny's ambulance another hour to leave. I heard the ambulance crank-up and saw it start moving. I stood waiting for the lights to come on, but they didn't. As the quiet truck turned onto the paved road, I knew my cousin was dead.

After a long sleepless night, we got a call from the hospital. I found out that Anthony's surgery was complete. My brother would be okay, but it all still seems so unreal.

-- Louise Moseley © 1998


Reaction

The Merging of Cultures

Latisha, Louise's cousin and sister of the drive-by-shooting victim. Photo by Louise Moseley. © TOTH 1998.
The drive-by shooting, which left my brother wounded and cousin dead, had an incredible impact on my family. Five Asian gang members chose my neighborhood, which is made up of my family, to go through to commit their "gang initiations."

My grandmother, baby and I used to sit on the front porch at night and talk. Since the shooting we rarely walk outside after dark. I'm more conscious of where my son is and what he's doing. My family is much closer now. We came together as we grieved and continue to get along as we heal.

Kenny's sister, 20-year-old Latisha, stays with us now. She comes home in the evening from her place of employment, Comar Foods, Inc., and she goes walking with my child and me. This surprises me because she used to be very arrogant. Now she walks in the room and she actually speaks!

The young people in our neighborhood are scared to walk up the road anytime, day or night. Especially the young black men, as they feel the shooting was a hate crime against the African-American community.

When my friends and family go places, we automatically get upset and enraged when we see Asian-Americans. I don't want to hate them, but when I think about what happened to my cousin and my brother the feeling of anger just overwhelms me. I pray every night that these feelings be taken out of my heart. Hate won't bring Kenny back and it won't solve the problems today's youth have with gang-related crimes.

-- Louise Moseley © 1998


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