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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“He likes to dance, he likes his music. And he loved basketball,” says his stepmom.

“That was his life—basketball,” says Mincey. A point guard and Roxborough’s leading scorer, he was being scouted by several colleges. Confident in his hoops abilities to the point of cockiness, Anderson had told friends and family he was interested in going to Temple. The pride of Abbottsford, Anderson was going to be “the next Curtis Brinkley”—the Abbottsford native and record-breaking West Catholic football star who’s currently a running back for the San Diego Chargers.

Big Shawn and Mincey say their son was intelligent and strong-willed. “He was a livewire,” Mincey recalls. “Once he felt like he was right and you was wrong, that was it. There was no turning him around. He and his father went through their things, but at the end of the day he knew his dad loved him.”

“He was somewhat like me when I was growing up,” says Big Shawn. “I told him, ‘Don’t be afraid to speak your mind.’ That got him in trouble. He mighta yelled at the teacher, cussed him out, forgot who he was talking to.”

When he was in middle school, Anderson got into a physical altercation with a teacher and was sent to a disciplinary school for at-risk students for four years. But by his junior year of high school, when he enrolled at Roxborough, his family says he’d figured things out. “He was getting his stuff together, going to class, getting everything done,” says Boseman.

“He had so many people in his corner helping him, making sure he graduated,” says Mincey, giving props to Brandt and basketball coach Terrell Burnett.

“He was gonna make copies of his diploma and put it on everybody’s door [at Abbottsford], like, ‘I told you so!’” says Big Shawn.

Tre’Shawn says Anderson was known for being tough both on and off the basketball court. “He didn’t do nothing to nobody unless somebody did something to him or his family. That’s when he stepped up to fight. He was really misunderstood. If you picked on him, he would walk away to give you a chance to leave him alone. But if you keep goin’, he’s gonna stand up for his self and put you down.”

“He wouldn’t back down from nobody,” says Mincey.

Anderson planned to go to junior college for a couple of years, then transfer to a Division One school—Temple, perhaps—where he could really get noticed playing basketball. He dreamed of playing in the NBA, but Mincey—who is a visual artist—says that in one of their last conversations he also expressed interest in becoming an architect. “When he said that I was like, ‘Wow, you can do that. You can do anything you want.’”

Mincey’s half-smile suddenly fades, her lips tighten, and she stares straight ahead at nothing in particular for a couple of minutes. Nobody in the room speaks. “I’m still in disbelief,” she finally says. “I mean, I seen them lay my boy to rest, I seen them drop him, but I’m still in a dream. It’s still not real to me. You can’t tell me he’s gone. It hasn’t really…”

Her voice trails off, and Big Shawn quickly jumps in. “My thing is I’m always telling people to tell someone you love that you love ’em, because that could be the last time you see them."

Greg Brinkley slowly sets his fork down on his plate of eggs and grits at the Oak Lane Diner. “Look, I’m not gonna sugarcoat anything. It’s a feud. It’s not everyone in the neighborhood, but it affects everyone in the neighborhood. I don’t care what people say or what they don’t like, but this is what I know—there is a feud going on.”

Georjean, Brinkley’s wife of 33 years, nods her head in agreement; so does Brinkley’s long-time friend, Malik Aziz, as he digs into his short stack. Aziz says the rift between hoods began decades ago when the kids who lived in private homes along Allegheny started making fun of the kids who lived in the projects. There have been long stretches of dormancy during the conflict, but Brinkley says the last couple years have proven it’s dormant no more.

“Everybody knows this is going on, that there’s fights and skirmishes you don’t even hear about in the papers.”

“Roxborough [High School] sayin’, ‘Ain’t nothin’ going on here,’ but I live up there, I see things,” says Aziz. “All the time, groups of them fighting. Punching each other, coats flying off. A mixture of the girls and the boys. From the high school all the way down to the bus stop at Roxborough Avenue. They cursin’—‘Aw yeah, I’m gonna fuck you up, bitch.’ All kinds of shit. They fight, and then they start runnin’ when the cops come. The senior citizens gotta jump out the way. It’s real havoc. It’s vicious. You see someone fall on the ground and they kickin’ ’em in the head.

“The police follow them all the way down the Ridge [Avenue], and it still doesn’t stop it. They got the cops pegged—they know they’ll get a couple punches in before the cops get there. Sometimes they get picked up—the cops take ’em to the 39th or the 5th [precincts] and their parents gotta come get them. If they’re over 18 they might get charged with disorderly. Don’t stop nothin’.”

“Let’s stop playin’,” says Brinkley. “This ain’t about somebody worrying about how their neighborhood is perceived or whatever. I’m trying to save a life. Last year I said if we don’t do something about this, somebody’s going to die. I hate the fact that I was right. But I say this again: If we don’t get ahold of this now, there will be more bloodshed.”

Brinkley and Aziz know something about bloodshed—as young men, they ran together in Philly’s notorious Uptown 28th & Oxford gang. It’s hard to believe now, given their gentle, soft-spoken demeanors and kind eyes, but both were combatants on the front lines of battles against gangs from East Falls and up and down Allegheny Avenue. Both men have been shot, stabbed, and beaten up; they did their share of shooting, stabbing, and beating up, too.

With the help of his wife and his strong religious faith, Brinkley—an Abbottsford activist and the Philly chapter president of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network—pulled himself out of the gang life and a serious drug addiction before the prison system or a violent death could claim him. Aziz wasn’t so fortunate—he was busted for selling drugs in 1982, did eight years, came out and fell back into the life, and got busted again. It was during that second stint in prison that he turned things around, and since his release in 1996 he’s been a tireless advocate for gang prevention, intervention, mediation, and extraction via such organizations as Men United for a Better Philadelphia and the National Exhoodus Council. Both men are tapped into the ebb and flow of Philly’s roughest streets, and they command respect from Abbottsford and Allegheny alike. “The kids, they listen to us because they know we lived it,” says Brinkley. “There ain’t nothin’ new under the sun. The only difference is that we had a gun or two, and now everybody has guns. But the concept of the streets doesn’t change.”

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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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