Teen's Shooting Death Reignites Fears Over Neighborhood Feud

By Michael Alan Goldberg
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 10 | Posted Feb. 23, 2011

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Brinkley—whose nephew is Curtis Brinkley (who Anderson was close with and considered a mentor) —is tight with Big Shawn and knew Anderson since he was a baby. He says Anderson knew how to fight, but he didn’t carry a gun. And he doesn’t believe he was involved in the McDonald’s shooting. “But by the same token he was recognized as an Abbottsford leader. He mighta took up for some people.”

“He had a thousand people there at his funeral,” says Aziz. “You ask any of those kids what they think of Shawnee, they like, ‘He was the shit. He was like our leader up here.’ He was an athlete, he was personable, he had that charisma, and young people follow.

“He had this bravado about him, like, ‘I ain’t takin’ no shit because I’m from Abbottsford.’ I can tell you he had a fierce love for Abbottsford. He identified with Abbottsford—that’s his crew and his hood.”

Both Brinkley and Aziz acknowledge that Anderson’s parents don’t want to hear that, but, says Aziz, “We gotta say it like it is. It was more or less a hit on the leader. I feel bad it happened. I love the kid and his family. But sometimes you gotta tell it like it is so you can save other kids.”

The pair say they’ve been driving around Allegheny, trying to talk to kids around 32nd Street, hoping to broker some kind of truce. Maybe get someone to give up Anderson’s killer because “it’s the right thing to do.” Aziz says the tension in that neighborhood is palpable; kids tell him they’re expecting retaliation from Abbottsford at any minute. “They one up on Abbottsford,” says Aziz. “And to the outside, [Abbottsford’s] sayin’, ‘It’s cool, it’s cool, everything’s alright, we ain’t gonna do nothin’ about it.’ But to themselves they sayin’, ‘This is Abbottsford, we don’t take no shit.’ So somebody’s gonna take that up. This kid was a loved figure up there by the other kids. You seen it at the funeral. You think they gonna let that go by? There’s no way. They gonna be like, ‘Fuck that, they killed Shawnee. Fuck that, somebody got to go over there.’ It’s up to us to stop it.”

“We can stop it,” says Brinkley. “I’ve got to believe that. We just gotta figure out how we’re gonna do the intervention process with stakeholders across the bridge. We got a working group from Abbottsford; we need a working group from Allegheny. We gotta say to them, ‘If your child is not involved, fine, but when the shooting starts, your child isn’t safe either.’ We need to encourage our communities to come together. Failure is not an option.”

In their living room, surrounded by photos of their son, Big Shawn and Mincey ponder the deeper causes of street violence and how to stop it. “It starts at home,” says Mincey, who used to counsel teens at West Philadelphia High School. “If you got a child at home, sit down and talk to that child and listen to that child like myself and Shawnee’s dad did with Shawnee. Your child could be goin’ through so much and you don’t even realize because you’re probably too busy working. Sit down and really ask your child, ‘How you doin’?’ Go to the school, see what they’re doin’. Get involved in their life.”

And, they say, the city needs to take responsibility, too. Big Shawn and others at Abbottsford have been trying for years to get after-school and evening programs—basketball, computer training, tutoring, anger-management counseling, movie nights, and more; the kind of programs Big Shawn had as a kid to keep him out of trouble—going at the Community Center again. But they say that ever since the Philadelphia Housing Authority (which has owned the Abbottsford property since the 1940s) took over full-time management of the projects from the Abbottsford Tenant Management Association in 2002, the building is locked most of the time, and when it’s not, it’s being used for PHA meetings.

“When kids ain’t got nothin’ to do, they gonna find something to do and it ain’t gonna be good,” says Big Shawn. “At least during that time they’re doing those activities at the Center, that’s one less chance they’re gonna be out there and something bad happen to ’em.”

Big Shawn says there’s plenty of adults at Abbottsford who will volunteer their time at the Center, they just need the PHA to make the facility available to residents and provide some modest funds to make those programs a reality. “We ain’t askin’ for a lot. It’s somethin’ small that can make a big difference.”

Make no mistake about it—Anderson’s parents want their son’s killer found and brought to justice. “I think death would be too easy,” says Mincey. “I want him to suffer … I mean suffer. How about being in a hole 23 hours a day, pure darkness. You don’t even know if it’s day or night. For the rest of your life.”

But both she and Big Shawn say their focus now is on becoming anti-violence activists, going to community meetings and candlelight vigils for murder victims all over the city, telling their story, and demanding Mayor Nutter do more to get guns off the streets. Mincey’s got a meeting scheduled next month with Mothers in Charge—the Philadelphia advocacy group formed by mothers who’ve lost their sons or daughters to street violence. And Big Shawn says he’ll go out and talk to anyone who will listen to his story. “I can’t just let it ride. I got to be out there. I don’t wanna see nobody go through what I’m going through right now. You can’t even imagine what it’s like.”

“They gonna hear our voice,” says Mincey. “They gonna hear my son’s voice. Shawnee isn’t just a number. He’s not just ‘the 38th male murdered in Philadelphia this year.’ Rashawn was a son. A grandson. An uncle. A nephew. He was a senior in high school getting ready to graduate. He was a person. He has a voice. I’ll never let them forget my boy.”

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COMMENTS

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1. Janeka Peace said... on Feb 24, 2011 at 10:02AM

“The last thing I want too see is retaliation. Rashawn Anderson is my cousin & like a son too me. So our family is grieving heavily. I will be that voice of reason. We will not let this go. Children killing children & familia lefty to mourn for life. We will seek justice the right way, but also apply pressure on State council..State representatives & find a solution together. No one deserves this pain we endured. It has to STOP..the killers hurt the ones left behind.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Feb 24, 2011 at 10:39AM

“If Philadelphia only put as much effort into taking care of its crime as they do its parking this "City of Brotherly Love" would be 100% safe and clean!”

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3. Anonymous said... on Feb 24, 2011 at 03:03PM

“When agencies like Crisis Intervention Network(CIN) and Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network (PAAN) were around they had the insight on how to handle gangs and gang violence. These agencies were in our communities and schools intervening and preventing violence and gang activity while getting a jump on things before they got out of control like this. Did the city stop funding them are they still around why aren't we seeing more of what we had in the earlier years that worked. I know CIN was closed in the late 80s but PAAN continued working against gang violence, what happened to that agency. We all know that gangs are alive and living in Philadelphia, but how many of our children must be killed before we step up to the plate and take a stand against this. I guess we are still waiting for someone to come up with something new. Why reinvent the wheel, we know what works.”

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4. Anonymous said... on Feb 24, 2011 at 03:49PM

“Why is it necessary when you write a story about a tragedy such as this you need to ad crap to make the story more sensational. The story here is that a young black man who was working hard trying to make something of himself was shot down and killed by a coward. I say coward because you hid in the dark as cowards do. You think that you are justified in what you have done and you ran as a coward would. It is obvious that if you had a beef with this young man as a man you could have addressed it and handled it another way. To you and all the other young men who feel that this is the answer to anything I ask this question. What are you afraid of? Are you afraid that people will expect something of you? Expect you to reach your full potential? Expect you to respect your self and life itself? Expect you to do what you really want to do that is fully understand what a man is and does, Or that they would expect you to what be a MAN?”

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5. Anonymous said... on Feb 24, 2011 at 04:59PM

“How far are you willing to go, how much do you really care is my question I've been wanting the FINGER LOCK FOR UNARTHORIZED GUN USER suggestion to be attempted by running a small trial test. My resilency and hope is not for self gratification or accolades because I could care less and actually would not want the credit for the purpoes is to save lives - My love of god is what motivates me and HIS WILL BE DONE NOT OURS - For he takes no pleasure in the lost of peoples souls be them innocent victims or criminals - but we could be saving a person from daming their soul to hell if we help prevent them from doing evil things even if it seems extreme - Is there really a level to extreme to prevent whats going on.
I think just the threat of using FINGER LOCKSt would be a deterrant.

1997 and 2001 are years that gun violence impacted me personally.
Its been happening and continues to happen”

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6. 28yr Abbottsford Resident said... on Mar 2, 2011 at 02:56PM

“Whats crazy about this story is....that there has been numerous shootings up abbottsford since Rashawn was murdered. Ths senseless stuff has to stop. We as people have to stop pointing fingers at each other and look in the mirror and ask yourself..What can I do to help this situation. Guns dont kill people..a trigger cant be pulled without a finger..We have to teach our kids the importance of human life...”

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7. the legend said... on Mar 2, 2011 at 04:59PM

“I hope they can fiind the killer. I hope there is no retaliation. My heart goes out to the family. Its a tragedy. A young man is gone and for what...revenge? Jealousy? It doesn't matter, it should never have to come to violence to settle anything.
To the parents I have no words. I can't even imagine the pain of losing a child like this. Please continue to pray for strength.”

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8. Anonymous said... on May 13, 2011 at 01:19PM

“i just cant stop reading this over and over. the way he died is beyond unbelievable. even though i did not know rashawn, he seemed like he had his whole life together, and for someone to take his life the way they did is beyond disgraceful. honestly, rashawn was going far. he was an excellent basketball player. i heard his name all the way in norristown. so i knew he had talent. and now his dreams were put on hold. may he rest in piece and god hold him under his wing. he seemed like a remarkable young man. and to the person who caused so much pain in a lot of people's hearts: maybe justice be served.
r.i.p rashawn anderson. even though i did not know you, i'm sure you will never be forgotten and you will forever live through the people who love you
*my condolences go out to his family, friends, and to roxborough high. <3”

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9. Anonymous said... on Jun 8, 2011 at 12:00AM

“Its crazy w they just took my boy away.... Its crazy how they locked up innocent ppl nd whts even more crazy the d.a did nufin.... Nothing...!!!! Four months later shawnee's killer is walkin the streets premeditatin another eazy muder.... And the d.a does nothing.... Innocent ppl has been takin down for a crime that really shouldnt matter.... All while nothing is being done about shawnee's muder... Philly needs to get it together it makes no since akiller gets off scott free!!!”

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10. Anonymous said... on Aug 30, 2011 at 11:12AM

“Roxborough High is a joke.....Having taught there and being subjected to the racist Rebecca Mitchell and Ernestine Caldwell, I hope the school goes down the toilet......”

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