A couple of years ago the popular HBO show The Wire aired it's final episode. But for me the drama isn't over just because it isn't aired on television.
One night last year, after getting home from a long day at work and school, I received a message to call my brother. Apparently, one of his homeboys had been killed. I returned the call to learn that the Quincy Henderson a.k.a. "Q", a mutual friend of my brother and I (although closer to L than me) had been involved in a fist-fight and then shot and killed in a park two blocks away from the projects where L and I lived in the early 90's.
I immediately made a phone call to my boss, Rev. Leon Kelly, the executive director of Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives to see if he had any knowledge of or more importantly, any info in regards to the specifics of the shooting. Because of Reverend Kelly's rapport with the community at large, it's very common that when violence occurs here, especially Black or Hispanic related , "Rev" as he's known, is one of the first people called by victims, families, police and the media. However, in this case, he hadn't heard anything about this incident until I called him.
It wasn't until the next day that I learned what happened.
Another very good friend of mine actually saw everything that transpired firsthand and came to talk to me and Rev for guidance. My friend was in a very bad place - between the proverbial rock and a hard place.
To truly understand his predicament, I have to tell you a short side story.
My friend, John Doe (his name for the sake of this story) is an OG from his hood/gang. Back in the 80's, he and a handful of others from the same housing projects and high school began their particular set. So for that reason, 20 years later, he is looked upon with both respect and disdain from a lot of people.
For a while I was one of those people who didn't have a lot of love for JD.
That's because I was just like him but from a different gang and from time to time our respective hoods would clash. Usually at events like the "let-out" after a club or during the drama that usually followed the annual Juneteenth celebrations here in Denver.
But as years passed and I outlived and outgrew my connections and devotion to my neighborhood fraternity, I began to know JD and other rivals as actual people instead of enemies. Over the course of some years, he and I ate together, drank and smoked together, served time together and became very good friends in no small part to Rev. Kelly and his Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives program intervening in our lives.
That's why he came to us when Quincy got killed the other night. He needed advice and wisdom.
Word had gotten out to the police that he was a witness to the shooting so they rolled through the streets of the hood looking for JD.
Of course, word got back around the hood that the police were looking for him and the "snitch" rumors started to circulate.
But JD is no snitch. He's no punk either. In fact he's the antithesis to what a lot of people assume. JD had been absent in his children's lives for so many years due to poor decisions which led to prison terms. Since then he has become a caring father who has taken major risks by visiting his kids in a high crime neighborhood that is notorious for gang violence and drugs. Because of this, the police, his parole officer and the system have repeatedly harassed him for being in the area and have gone as far as attempting to violate his parole.
I have personally witnessed this man pull his younger G's to the side and lecture them on the lifestyle that they are choosing to live. He's let them know where the choices they are making are going to lead. He's showed them his bullet scared body. He has shown them that he has turned his life around. All of this in an attempt to be a better father for his children and role model for the young ones that potentially are following in his footsteps. He wants the hood to be safer for all of our kids.
But as the saying goes, "no good deed goes unpunished."
JD had a parole revocation hearing shortly after the murder because of all of the "police contact" he's had in the past 3 1/2 years. Again, remember, his kids live in the hood and the cops know JD because he's a 20+ year veteran of the game. All it takes is for him to be walking from the bus-stop to the house and an officer sees him for him to be in "violation". They know he's an easy mark to fill their monthly quotas and an even easier way to solve a murder.
Let me tell you, the politics of Capitol Hill D.C. don't have half the tension that the politics of Park Hill, D.C. (Denver, CO) have.
The DA and Homicide detectives who worked the case and his parole officer have threatened him with up five years penitentiary time for a possible parole violation if he didn’t cooperate with the investigation. Someone leaked his name out into the hood to the killer as being an informant. The family of the victim heard that JD was involved and started looking for him.
I told you, it all sounds like an episode of the Wire huh?
The only thing is, I can't just turn the television off or change the channel when my one-time-enemy-now-very-close-friend breaks down and cries on my shoulder because he's scared of being killed and or losing his kids to another prison term.
In February of this year JD was sent back to prison to serve about a year for the parole violations. The murderer has pled guilty to second-degree murder and faces 35 to 60 years in prison. The murder case against the man who provided the murder weapon to the killer has been dropped although he is going to prison for an unrelated arson.
Apparently, justice is served.
But I haven't even mentioned that Quincy's 9-year-old daughter attends the after-school program that I used to coordinate.
The day after her father, my friend was killed, I had to look in that little girls eyes and hold back my tears when she asked me did I know "Quincy Henderson"
"Yes, I did." I replied to her.
"He was my Dad." She told me.
"He got killed."
Dumbstruck, I stared at her with a blank look in my eyes as my mind raced to find the appropriate response.
There wasn't one.
All I could do was just give a hug her and hold her hand as I walked her to the classroom she goes for homework.
By: Jonathan McMillan