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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The police don’t see it that way. Cop cars are all over Abbottsford around the clock since Anderson’s killing; helicopters hover over the projects at night. Sometimes, when Anderson's cousin walks down to Uncle Willie’s, he says the cops shine flashlights in his face and harass him.

“The cops keep saying, ‘We know the retaliation’s coming. When’s it coming?’ I tell them no, it ain’t comin.’ And it’s not. No one here is stupid enough to do that. And [Allegheny] would be crazy to come up here right now, with all these cops around. But the cops, they makin’ it more tense around here.”

Anderson’s parents bristle at the notion that their son’s slaying represents a rekindling of gang warfare between the two neighborhoods. “Allegheny and Abbottsford, that’s been going on for years,” says Mincey. “I’m from Allegheny—I got jumped up here, and I came back. My son live here, they ain’t gonna run me outta Abbottsford. But it’s not gangs. It hasn’t been gangs for a long time. It’s just regular, stupid high school stuff. Jealousy, things like that. But the days of fighting … are over. Now it’s, ‘I’mma go get my gun.’”

“My boy was not in a gang,” she continues. “He didn’t start any trouble with anyone. He was focused on basketball and school. He knew what he had to do.”

She and Big Shawn believe the police haven’t helped matters by connecting their son’s death to the McDonald’s incident—both claim the shootings are unrelated. “The cops say that to take away from their responsibility. If they blame it on the turf, then, ‘This is gonna happen, they beefin’.’ But what are you as the protectors doing? People around here, they call the cops telling them people are harassing them or whatever, and no one comes out to see them. And why? Because they live [in the projects] … That’s sad. They only come out here after something like this happens, and then they harass you for no reason.”

Big Shawn also says the media have been irresponsible in describing what’s going on as a “turf war”—he says it makes the public think that his son was purposefully involved in something and maybe he had it coming to him. When a local TV news crew came out to talk to him shortly after the shooting, “the woman said, ‘I’ve seen [Shawnee’s] Facebook page—he’s got a lot of tattoos and he’s throwing up gang signs …’ I said, ‘Gang signs? They ain’t no gang signs.’ We like to party and have fun. We just havin’ fun, that’s all. I cut that interview short right there.”

Still, Anderson’s parents say they’re trying their best to prevent Abbottsford kids from avenging their son’s killing. “A lot of his friends have been Facebooking me,” says Mincey. “They’ve expressed anger and I tell them, ‘I’m his mom, there’s nobody angrier than me. Take his name and make something good out of it. If you go out and retaliate, then what? It’s not gonna bring Shawnee back. And then you’re destroying your life, your family’s life.’ I don’t wanna see another family go through this.”

Respected as he is around Abbottsford, if Big Shawn put out the word to retaliate, “They’d be lined up outside telling me, ‘What time we leavin’?’ But I tell the kids they gotta chill out. There ain’t gonna be no retaliation.”

Inside the family’s second-floor apartment, Big Shawn switches on the TV in the living room. He says he’s hardly slept, and finally ate some food for the first time since the shooting. “I think I’ve been doing more drinking than anything.”

A few years shy of 40, he’s lean and athletic like his son; the “Big” in front of his name doesn’t represent his physical stature so much as the respect he’s earned at Abbottsford, where he’s lived since 1977. A former taxi driver, he’s also known around the projects as “Transporter Charlie” for hauling Abbottsford residents all around Philly—40 to 60 miles a day, he estimates—for less cash than they’d pay to call a cab. “They was ridin’ with me when I had a taxi, now they ride with me and there ain’t no meter. They like that,” he laughs softly as he brings up a YouTube video on the TV. It’s a Shawnee tribute clip called “Cherish the Last Words” by young Philly rapper Shump Bucketz, posted two days after Anderson’s death.

Crammed on two couches are Mincey, Anderson’s stepmother Stephanie Young, his 19-year-old sister Rakeema, his 17-year-old brother Tre’Shawn, his 16-year-old stepbrother Andre, and Lashay Boseman, his girlfriend of just over a year. All of them are wearing Shawnee tribute T-shirts or hoodies. A handful more neighbors and friends filter in and out of the room. Big Shawn sits on a folding chair about two feet away from the screen, lights a cigarette, and stares at the slideshow of Anderson mugging for the camera at parties with his friends or elevating toward the basket during Roxborough games as the music plays. Everyone else nods their head to the beat and silently mouths the lyrics:

I cherish the last words, I wish I woulda said more,

Now shorty got me sayin’ rest in peace to one more.

He was cooler than most and he loved it on the court,

Why do good things gotta be so short?

When it ends, Big Shawn hits play. They watch it again.

“I watch it every day, at least two or three times a day,” he says.

“More than that,” says his brother, Tre’Shawn.

“I’d be watching it on my phone, too, if it wasn’t broke,” says Big Shawn. “He used to rap a little bit, too, he cracked me up.”

Was he any good? “Nahhh,” says Big Shawn. Everybody laughs. “He was always laughin’ and jokin’—he was a straight-up jokester.”

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Comments 1 - 10 of 10
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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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