Carl W. Kenney II is an award winning columnist and novelist. He is committed to engaging readers into a meaningful discussion related to matters that impact faith and society. He grapples with pondering the impact faith has on public space while seeking to understand how public space both hinders and enhances the walk of faith.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Looking for justice in Columbia Missouri
Megan Donohue of the Columbia Missourian
“It’s like the people here are sleepwalking,” Harold
Warren, Sr. said as he clutched the stirring wheel of his car as if to keep
from shaking.“We have to fight for our
Warren was the first black person
elected to serve on Columbia, Missouri’s City Council.It took more than 30 years for residents to
elect another black person. Almeta
Crayton was the first black woman to serve on the city council
Crayton died last week at 53.
“I tell people it’s sad that I was the
first black person elected to the council,” Warren says. “Not much has changed
He parked in front of the Wendy’s near
the Columbia Mall. Memories of when it first opened came to mind as I reflected
on the massive growth since I left 25 years ago. So much has changed. Some
things are the same.
Warren then told me the story of Brandon Coleman’s
death.Coleman, a 25-year-old
groundskeeper at the University of Missouri, was killed on May 19 following a
confrontation over an interracial relationship.No arrest was ever made and, last week, Boone County prosecutor Dan
Knight declared the shooting “legally justified” and that no charges would be
Warren says an argument began when Broadus arrived at
the house to see his girlfriend.The
girl’s father came to the door holding a machete and threatened to use it if
Broadus refused to leave.
“He (Broadus) had a gun but he didn’t pull it out,”
Warren says the son of the man arguing with Broadus
opened fire on Broadus with a 12-gauge shotgun. Josiah Williams, a witness at
the scene, told a reporter with the Columbia Daily Tribune he heard three quick
gunshots, a pause and then a fourth gunshot.Williams said he went outside and overheard a man telling neighbors he
looked out the window to see his father being held at gunpoint and started shooting.
Williams told the Tribune he could see Coleman rolling
on the ground in pain. He said he called 911 four times but never spoke to a
dispatcher because the phone continued to ring or he was placed on hold. He
estimated it took 25 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.
Winona Coleman-Broadus, Brandon’s mother, claims racial
prejudice played a role in the decision not to file charges. Coleman-Broadus
has reached out to the U.S. Justice Department for help.
Coleman-Broadus said witnesses claim her son did not
fire a weapon at the person who shot. Coleman-Broadus believes authorities did
not act fast enough to save her son’s life.
“I don’t understand why trained, professional people
could not have tried to stop bleeding, start CPR and reassured and comforted
him.They could have at least allowed my
son to die in a humane fashion rather than like a damn animal because he is not
an animal.He was a good kid who made
some bad choices,” Coleman-Broadus told reporters with KRCG-TV.
Witnesses told Coleman-Broadus that police did nothing
to save her son’s life while they waited 30 minutes for an ambulance to make
the five minutes trip to the crime scene. Columbia police refused to respond to
what witnesses told family members.
The protest of black residents has fallen on deaf
ears.Coleman-Broadus and fewer than 50
gathered on the corner of Providence and Broadway to plead for justice. Their
signs and tears reflect the lack of change in community long divided along the
broad line that keeps blacks on the other side. For those begging for a day in
court, there is no daylight – just darkness.
Such is life in a city that has only elected two
blacks to the city council.
“It’s been this way for so long they don’t know how to
act another way,” Warren said.