Another Senseless Killing of a Young Man. Where is the Outrage?
By C. Ron Allen
I had been away from my phone much of the day on Tuesday when upon returning I noticed I had three missed calls from my local police department.
By the time I returned the calls, everyone had left for the day.
It wasn’t until my minister called to inform me that Courtney McGriff – one of the young men who graduated my mentoring program – was gunned down earlier inside his home.
My first thought was it had to be a robbery. Courtney was not the type of person to get involve with criminal activity – at least not involving guns. After all, he was a local businessman.
Police are still trying to determine what led to his murder. They were called to his home in the first block of 14th Avenue shortly after 5 p.m., and upon arrival, they found him dead from gunshot wounds.
The unofficial version is that his demise was the result of an ongoing personal feud. Another senseless killing of a young black man at the hands of another black man.
In the last seven years, I have attended as many funerals for young protégés who I mentored in the KOP Mentoring Network program. Six of those were because of gun violence.
Those who knew Courtney are left wondering why this senseless killing to someone who had so much going for him. He was only 29 – Courtney had his whole life in front of him.
There needs to be a sense of moral outrage.
He joined the Knights of Pythagoras, as it was called then, in 2000. He had a beautiful, melodious voice. I recall us taking our boys choir to perform at churches in the tri-county area to sing. Courtney always wanted to sing, ‘Silver and Gold’ because he was the only one who could belt one of the verses with his falsetto voice.
He was a jokester who loved to entertain. He had us in stitches at the annual Crime Prevention Conference in Tampa and Orlando where back in the hotel room, he would imitate the various speakers throughout the day.
In his sophomore year, I encouraged him to pursue a career in mortuary science in hopes of one day owning his own business. From an early age, Courtney was destined to be a businessman. He wanted to be “my own boss.” For several years, when we sold water and ice cream at the annual Delray Affair and a handful of other street events in the city, he wanted to be the cashier.
He followed one of his mentors, the late Lamar Shuler, and studied mortuary science for a while. He worked admirably at Shuler’s Memorial Chapel in Delray Beach until he parted ways. But he found a home at another funeral home. Still Courtney was determined to be his own boss.
He also studied hard and got his bounty hunter license. I recall him telling me how he wanted to be a bail bondsman and how he was studying every waking hour to pass the test. After passing the test and earning his license, he was so proud. He was on his path to becoming his own boss.
He had a stint working for the city and also moonlighted as a security guard. Perhaps he was best known in the area for his role as an escort at funeral processions.
In the wake of Courtney’s murder, people are discussing it privately. But no one is talking about the number of young men being cut down without any concern.
There is no outrage in the community?
I find it alarming that when a black man is killed by a police officer, especially a white one, there is such an outcry from the community. Yet, when one of our young men is murdered by gunfire, the stakeholders and leaders become mum.
That mindset has to change. Far too often we are losing our innocent young men to black-on-black violence at a rate that many in our society do not see as outrageous and unacceptable – at least their actions are not saying so.
I am hoping this will be my last column about the sad customs that have developed in neighborhoods plagued by this senseless violence. I am tired of the makeshift memorials of teddy bears and balloons and the speed with which T-shirts bearing the victim’s likeness are produced. This kind of tragedy is not the norm and need to be stopped.
If not now, when?