The huge interest has left me baffled?
What is it, that is so unique about this young lady's situation. 17 year old Afrika Owes. The story of a young lady falling for the wrong boyfriend has touched a nerve.
It's important that I start out with the same premise as a week ago.
All of us failed this 17 year old. It is simply too convenient, to easy, to argue that she is someone else's problem.
If we understand, "each one, teach one," if we really understand that it does take a village to raise a child, then collectively all of us have to take the blame. In an ideal situation, with her smarts, Afrika is supposed to represent the best of our city.
Afrika is the intelligent young lady caught up now in a legal maze. She is smart enough literally for an Ivy League college, but as of right now, is sitting on Rikers Island.
By far, I am not a bleeding heart liberal, but a young lady who should be going off to Cornell University, perhaps Harvard is in one of the hardest jails in America. Afrika was arrested during a sweep of gangbangers for peddling crack, carrying out beatings and recruiting kids to run guns on W. 137th St. in Harlem.
Compare that to at one time Afrika had been on a scholarship to a prominent prep-school in Massachusetts, but Afrika selected the wrong boyfriend.
Prosecutors say Afrika had no problem toting her boyfriend's loaded 9-mm. handgun or listening to his chilling directions for murder: "Head shots only." They say she happily accepted the bling and other gifts bought with drug money.
Prosecutors charge many of the telephone calls between Owes and her boyfriend were recorded. The line was tapped.
The gang was so bold, the "137th Street Crew" that members have been charged with slinging crack in the shadow of the famed Abyssinian Baptist Church.
But contrast that with Afrika is a young lady that wrote poety and sang in Abyssinian's choir.
It is something about this young lady's situation that has touched a nerve.
After I posted an item on her, I carefully watched. 400 hits in the first few minutes. 1,000 in 10 hours, then it hit 2,000. What is it about this situation?
Many of you expressed support for the young lady, and for that, I can tell you her mother is very grateful. I can tell you Afrika's mother looked at every one of your comments that were posted. I can also state that she loves her daughter dearly.
Obviously law and order must prevail, but the new District Attorney Cy Vance is a reasonable man. In fact he is a good man. Vance is in a tough situation here, but perhaps we should have faith he will handle this case accordingly.
The pastor of Abyssinian, Rev. Calvin Butts has called for Owes to be given a break, comparing her with Patty Hearst, the kidnapped heiress who was 19 when she joined her captors in violent bank robberies. Butts has said he favors a personal recognizance bond to get her out of jail.
Hearst did receive help from two former Presidents: Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence and Bill Clinton pardoned her, Butts argues. "They spared no expense getting her out!" He said. "She robbed a bank, and described herself as an urban guerrilla!"
"If Patty Hearst can have a chance, why can't we take that chance on Afrika?" He said.
"It's not just for Afrika, it's for hundreds of thousands like her. We have to stand for all of our young people who have been unjustly incarcerated."
It's the new slavery," he said. It's mass incarceration."
Prosecutors declined to comment on the Hearst comparison, but the 51-page indictment portrays Afrika as an urban Bonnie to boyfriend Jaquan Layne's drug-dealing Clyde – who willingly carried his loaded gun.
Layne, 20, apparently masterminded the scheme, and Owes worked on his behalf with other members of the 137th St. Crew, terrorizing the upper Manhattan neighborhood with drugs and violence, the Manhattan District Attorney's office said.
I still say, and I'm willing to be the first one to stand up and declare, we all failed Afrika Owes. I hope she's able to recover at go to an Ivy League college.