A mother's grief: Mother of Kimani Gray speaks out
NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 5/16/2013, 2:28 p.m.
"I have been reaching out to the Black mothers like me. I don't want them to give up on their children. [I want to] help [the children] fight for their dreams even if they see them going down the wrong lane--still try and fight for them--because they want better, but there is so much peer pressure out there for them."
Gray said that while her son had a 12 a.m. curfew, she had a plan for a sort of emergency youth shelter that would get kids off the street if they had no way to get home. "I always said if I won the lotto, I would build community-based spaces for the kids so that they could have some place safe to go, where they can phone their parents and say they are staying there all night if they need to. Somewhere they could go so they wouldn't be harassed by the cops.
"That's what I wanted for Kimani. A structured department for them--someone they could trust so they don't have to worry about being searched because, 'We are young, our pants are sagging, and I got a do-rag on,' or hoodies on their head--that's my outlook for children of Kimani's age."
It seems both heart- wrenching and therapeutic for the Jamaican native to talk about her loss. Said Gray, "Kimani is one of the most respectable kids in my household. He was a great uncle because I have three grandchildren, and he was very, very helpful." Breaking down again, the grandmom said, "Every day they ask, 'Where is Kimani?' I can't tell them because if they knew, they wouldn't understand."
Gray, who said she had seven children in her household, continued.
"Kimani was aware of the harassment because he had been stopped so many times. I told him that it is about being young and you are walking in a group, and every group is considered to be gang-affiliated. I know, I watch about what gang affiliation is, and Kimani and his group were nowhere close to that. There's no organization, there's no pledges. There's no order. There's no meetings. It is just a group of kids who grew up in the same neighborhood, attend the same public schools and became friends and want to hang out, and then there's other kids from other neighborhoods, and ultimately they become rivals. And you tell them you are not rivals--you are one blood. Kimani has no orders except my order, my curfew, and I am just so sorry that his life has been taken."
Gray mourned, "I just sit in my living room. I won't go to bed. Just waiting and hoping for the bell to ring, and trying not to fall asleep--just hoping Kimani is trying to come home. Kimani has never spent a night out on the street. Maybe life struggles were trying to turn him in a different direction, but I always told him that I was there for him. That education was everything. I told him, 'I am here for you.'"