Prowling the streets of Cleveland, 37-year-old Steve Stephens was on a mission that was utterly insane. “Found me somebody I’m going to kill, this guy right here, this old dude,” he said as he stepped out of his vehicle. In the moments that followed, Stephens would ask 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. to say the name of a woman he knew, and when the former foundry worker failed to do so, he said, “She’s the reason why this is about to happen to you.” Then Stephens savagely shot him to death.
Apparently proud of his work, Stephens posted a video of the shocking murder on Facebook, an action so sick and twisted that Cleveland’s African-American community—battle-hardened by decades of violence — erupted in anger and outrage. That outrage endures, even though Stephens ended his own life after a brief pursuit by police in Pennsylvania.
It was a feeling with which I was intimately familiar, having just attended the funeral of my 41-year-old cousin, Reggie, in St. Louis. A married father of two, Reggie was gunned down by another African-American in a senseless act of violence.
I spent the entire weekend not only consoling members of my own family, but also with a congregation of angry and heartbroken black mothers, many of whom had also lost their sons or other relatives and friends to gun violence. Like me, they wondered aloud what it would take to put a stop to the epidemic of black men killing other black men. (Seattle Medium)