Tonight was a different kind of night for me; a life changer in how my concerns for the local conscience mattered enough for me to drop all that I was doing. I found it important to be there where the county of Rockdale congregated en mass to mourn and celebrate life of 2 dearly departed residents in our community. I found myself at the center of it all, just as official as the big Atlanta news crews that were present. And after all, why not? I’ve been deeply involved in the Rockdale community for close to seven years.
They were faces and individuals and business owners who I knew by name who’s numbers are in my phone/people who I have interacted with in some way, shape or form. people who I fund-raised with. people who I collected clothing for. people who’ve attended my jazz shows. People on my email list. People who I send and receive text messages from. Facebook friends. At least one “Frenemy.” They were all there on Wednesday night.
I spent the day preparing so that I’d be cleaned up, un-rushed and focused on the job at hand. No matter what my “to do list” said todo, something more pressing grabbed me by the collar and said “No man. You’re gonna do this.” And so it was. Our publication and website doesn’t even do drama and crime and tragedy. We’re absolutely positive. I don’t even much import my opinions such as I do on my personal website. Because the Rockdale Connector is all about community. And so, why not? Why not be present for one of the most important gatherings in this community’s history?
I could immediately see that those crews, cameramen and reporters were accustomed to confronting these sorts of tragedies regularly in Atlanta. The same folks you don’t see in our neighborhood unless there is some kind of tragedy, extreme weather or a celebrity-sighting. I’m being facetious but you get my point. “Would you like a candle, sir?” a lady asked a cameraman on the job. He flatly replied “no” with a short wag of his head and just before lighting up a cigarette.
For me however, this is personal. Like they say “it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.” And by default, because I sleep, eat and work here, I am a Rockdale County resident. It’s here where there are many people who I care about. So to see senseless violence taking place in our midst, the loss of one Korean and one Black, was the most ironic and yet most human encounter I’ve witnessed in a long time. The irony is that Blacks and Koreans have had struggles/a muddied history in this country (if you’re receptive to or even aware of the media accounts.) We’ve seen it in the infamous grocery store incident in South Central Los Angeles, where Latasha Harlins was killed by Soon Ja Du a 51- year-old Korean store owner.
I recently saw the recent video (on YouTube) where a Black woman got into a scuffle with a Vietnamese nail salon owner. In fact, while the video was running it was the crying, screaming, kicking shop owner who was the aggressor, clearly angry and hostile because of some earlier argument.
This latest encounter also involved a Korean and Black, both residents not a fight amongst one another, but indeed a fight for their own lives. The two victims from the liquor store on Monday were Conyers resident and store owner Mun Hyuk Cha, 44, and Covington resident Otonicar Jimquez Aikens, 39, a customer at the store. The 3rd victim was the shooter himself, Jeffrey Scott Pitts, 36, a White man who sheriffs tell men had a history of negative issues in the community. “He had been sighted for shoplifting at that very store” a Rockdale Sheriff explained. “And it takes a deranged, twisted man to then go and shoot his parents.”
And so, while the drama that brought me there to the Magnate Package store was behind us/over with, the gathering in the parking lot was one of those life events that cannot go without being addressed. While this community enjoys a certain peace of mind and is protective of its soul and conscience, this is not unlike the random violence going on throughout the world. We filmed the gathering. Return here to see more than I could detail in TEN novels.
Side Note: if there was a highlight from this gathering it was when Rockdale resident, Life Coach & Pastor Courtney Dillard preached to the crowd. He expressed that we needed to take LOVE away from this gathering and he executed his words by having all of us to hug one another, to hold our neighbors standing beside us, even if we did not know them. By his energy, the chemistry of the entire evening changed and smiles broadened on the faces of those who had been sad. #gamechanger here’s the full vigil/video