Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hard knock life - and death

I came upon this shrine a block away from my assignment covering the Meadow Green Community Center, just east of the Anacostia River in Southeast DC. In my view, this shrine is ringing testament as to why effective neighborhood drop-in facilities like Meadow Green are so critically needed for the health and safety of the city's young people.

I know nothing more about the identity and circumstances of this shrine other than it was erected to a shooting victim. That's all I could get out of anybody. I talked to some pretty rough-looking young men in the 'hood, but could glean no more information. Usually, I find people open to sharinng memories, stories, reflections. This time, nobody wanted to appear to be a snitch.

And so - another piteous marker is left to publicly reveal the grievous secret failings of the human heart.

Shrine for Lizzie Mae Tanie

This lovely simple shrine, dedicated to Lizzie Mae Tanie, appears to be honoring the memory of a family member who died a natural death some years ago. Located just off the street in a small public park across the from Congressional Cemetery at the edge of DC's Capitol Hill neighborhood, it is a touching rarity in our city, in that it gently celebrates a loved one's non-violent passage into ancestry.

Update: I re-visited this shrine on October 30, 2009. It has been carefully kept up and expanded.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Shrine for Ryan Travon "Fatboy" Harris

15-year-old Ryan Travon Harris was shot in the head and killed Sunday March 16, 2008, about 2:00 AM in Washington, DC. This shrine, near his grandmother's home in the 3100 block of Apple Rd NE, is near the spot where he was found dead.

According to the Washington Post, a vigil was held the day after his murder. More than fifty local youths turned out, expressing the feeling that "he didn't deserve this." A neighborhood activist, Mr Robert King, said he was touched by the turnout for the murdered teenager, who was affectionatly known as Fat Boy, and by the determination of those at the vigil to end gun violence.The area has has generally been free of much of the city's worst crimes.

Ryan's brother Roderick Harris told the Post "He was a good person... he always made you smile."

A sad, quick end to a young life.

Prayers, tears, libations, bears, flowers, and goodbyes - again