A chilling picture in the latest Gay City News. Photographer Bernard Morisset lensed the above black and white image, the funeral urn and remains of slain Brooklyn teenager Rashawn Brazell. The 19-year old gay man was murdered and dismembered in February; much of his remains were not found, so the compact urn is not much larger than a potted plant.
Rashawn's mother is Desire Brazell, who consented to a rare interview. She has not spoken to reporters since shortly after parts of her son's body were discovered at a Brooklyn subway station in February. The report was filed by Mike Meenan, who's done an admirable job of covering this case since the winter. His piece poignantly opens with irony: "For the first time in years, one Brooklyn woman finally had her two children together under the same roof on Mother’s Day." Except in this home, one of her boys is on the mantle. The other has since been arrested on firearms charges following death threats made to the family.
If you were reading my former website brotha2Brotha, you may recall my March essay on newsroom racial composition and coverage of the homicide investigations. From years of working in local and network newsrooms, experience shows that cases such as the Brazell's are rarely given prominence. Fellow producers tend to be white and more empathetic with abducted blond ten year old girls; case in point, massive resources were shifted to the Runaway Bride while a contemporary story of a missing black woman, Tamika Houston, was virtually ignored. Numerous planning meetings come to mind when staff dismissed violent crimes because the victims were not "newsworthy. "
But some good news here: Rashawn' mother is not disheartened by the lack of media coverage. She's come to peace with the realization that headlines will not collar a suspect; detectives will. Hopefully. Although the investigation remains unsolved, Ms. Brazell says she is confident that the police are making progress. One has to admire her strength.