Wednesday, January 23, 2008

It's not always funny

On Thursday, January 17, Sayed Rawi was robbed and murdered at his store on Highway 158 in Caswell County. My family and I had known Sayed for several years. While his store was not on my normal travel route, I would stop there every week or two to discuss politics and the changing socio-economic trends in Caswell County. Yes, that translates to a B.S. session. Sayed was an artist who operated a store as a way to have a place to paint and display his work. My art IQ is pretty low, so I am not sure that I understood his work, but it was pretty good. A few years ago, The Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro had a show of his work. My family and I attended the opening night reception there and we were almost as excited as he was about the reactions of other people to his work.

On Thursday, with school cancelled due to weather, three young black men entered his store, robbed him, and shot him to death. Within 12 hours, the three had been arrested and charged with his murder.

On Friday morning, I went to the Caswell County Courthouse for details on the first hearing for the three killers. I arrived around 10:00 A.M. and sat listening to the twenty or so family members of the killers discuss the incident. Many wondered how their children could have done such a terrible thing. Several were concerned about the death penalty in the case. The talk around the courthouse and among family members was that the 16 year old had confessed to shooting Sayed twice in the face. The police had arrested two of the killers a couple of hours later not more than 15 miles away in the car described by witnesses as the getaway car. Questioning of those two led to the arrest a few hours later of the 16 year old. By the time of the hearing Friday, the Sheriff's Department apparently had the three killers, a confession, the car, evidence from the store in the car, the weapon, and the person from whom the weapon was obtained.

Around noon, we were told that the hearing would be at 2:00 P.M., so I went to lunch and returned around 1:30. At that point a reporter and cameraman from Channel 8 arrived to cover the story. The change in family member attitudes was incredible!! The same people who only a couple of hours earlier had been wondering how their children had gone astray, were now claiming that the wrong people had been arrested. One women who was interviewed claimed "He wouldn't do anything like that." Only a few hours from honest concern to a state of denial unmatched in recent history.

At the hearing, the three were denied bond and informed of the charges against them. All were charged with First Degree Murder and Robbery with a dangerous weapon. The 16year old cannot face the death penalty because of his age, but it is being pursued against the 18 year old and the 20 year old. Two of the three are students, and none has a job, other than robbing and killing.

Over the weekend I read several stories about Martin Luther King Day and the need that we still have for better race relations. It was the same drivel that I read every year on this subject. This year I have a new starting point on how to improve race relations. We could all get along better if your kids weren't robbing and killing my friends.


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