What Did We Learn From Covering The Shootings In Liberty City?

Oct 8, 2014

Credit freedigitalphotos.net

  This past August, we brought you a series of stories about the violence in Liberty City. Specifically we looked at life after a mass shooting in June that ended with seven injured and two dead.

Our reporter Nadege Green reported and produced the series. After her "Aftermath: Beyond the Bullets in Liberty City" series, I talked with Nadege about the people, attitudes, and challenges that exist in the community. 

Read an edited version of our conversation below, and join us Thursday, Oct. 9, at Miami Northwestern Senior High for a community discussion led by Nadege. We'll talk about Liberty City's wins and losses, and what issues should be reported in the neighborhood.

You were already working on a story about violence in Liberty City... and then the mass shooting happened.

I was working on a story about the organization Call a Pastor. There was a protest on Father's Day, which was a Saturday, that I attended. I wasn't sure what the story was yet but I knew that I was interested in the organization and I wanted to tell that story.

And then a month later the mass shooting happened, and again the pastor, Reverend Billy Strange, who is the leader of Call a Pastor, was actively involved. On the day of the mass shooting he was out there on the scene and within hours of the mass shooting one of his parishioners called and said, 'My son was killed.'

And I thought, maybe this is the story. As I was reporting on it, there were so many different threads that came from the community, from the police perspective, from the politics, that I thought we should break this up because one story would not do this justice.

You had the chance to speak with Miami-Dade Commissioner Keon Hardemon, who's from Liberty City. He feels like he's on an island of sorts. He wants federal intervention to battle the gun violence because he believes that it has escalated to the point of terrorism.

In your series he says, "To me this is about domestic terrorism. Any time you take an AK-47 and an AR-15 and you shoot 10 people, you're terrorizing the community."

Do people in the community really believe that?

In the course of my reporting, several people described what was happening in Liberty City like it was a war. Larry Fulton, who lived a block away from where the mass shooting happened,  said that this is like Baghdad. That's what it sounds like when the bullets fly. And so there are residents who feel like they are being terrorized. I don't know that they would make the case for domestic terrorism but I think it's definitely interesting to note how they describe where they live.

Police cannot get witnesses to speak up. Why won't they talk? Talk about this no-snitch culture. 

In Liberty City many of the residents are scared. You do have the aspect of young men who might be involved in gangs who feel like it's not cool. You're not going to rat out your friend, you're not going to snitch, you're going to stand by your homeboy. But you do have the very real reality of residents who are afraid to talk. Many of the residents who I tried to interview didn't want to talk to me.

Hermana Richardson, she lost her son Kevin. He was 29. She is determined to seek justice. She said in the series, "They need to let the feds come in and run everybody up out of there and shut the whole projects down."

She was very specific in saying she doesn't want street justice. She doesn't want to see her son's killers killed. She wants them to be held accountable in a court of law. She also talked about the killer's mothers.

She said she would hate for them to ever feel the pain that she's feeling as the mother of a murdered victim. She wants them to be able to go visit their children in prison. But she wants to know that they are locked away forever.

You can hear and read Nadege Green's entire series at WLRN.org/aftermath.