Entries in Dunbar Village (19)

Tuesday
Sep012009

From Nathan Walker Sr., perspective on a father and (now convicted) son

Early in the trial during jury selection, Nathan Walker Jr., in white shirt, and co-defendant Tommy Poindexter at defense table. Early in trial during jury selection, Nathan Walker, in white shirt, and co-defendant Tommy Poindexter at defense table. C.B. Hanif for WAOD: He said it was a news report that had prompted him take up a reporter’s invitation to share what he would like people to know, as his son faced a trial with life in jail among the possible consequences. He said the report had stated he wasn’t present when his son’s 11 guilty verdicts were read in court late Friday. He wanted to explain that the reason he was not it in the courtroom at the time, as he had been most of that day, and on each of the trial’s previous six days, was because a friend he’d relied on had failed to summon him, from the library across the street, for the jury’s late-breaking announcement. The senior Nathan Walker, on left in blue shirt, joined by other family members in his usual place during the trial: in the courtroom. The senior Nathan Walker, on left in blue, joined by other family members in his usual place during the trial: in the courtroom. He described himself as a father long estranged from his children’s mother, and also fighting his own childhood and drug demons. But he emphasized that, “To be there, in that courtroom for my son, was the most important thing in the world to me, at that particular time.” He is the father of Nathan Walker, one of the participants who was convicted on multiple counts in the gang rape and assault on a mother and her son two years ago. In additional perspective documented by WAOD regarding some of the principals in the Dunbar Village sexual assault case, Nathan Walker Sr., during a telephone interview Saturday, shared insight on the life of his son, and his own. He described himself as trying to do the right thing in marrying his wife Ruby who had just birthed baby Nathan. “I was trying to be with the woman that I had had the baby with,” he said. “That was one of the reasons me and her got married.” It lasted about a year. “I was young, probably in my early 20s,” and he and his wife, who he said already had children, were having their own problems. ”I think it was back in ’90, probably early ’92 when we separated,” he said. “There were some things that went on, and I just walked away. And there has been times, or short period of times, that I thought I would come back, and try to get things right, but it just didn’t work.” That meant there were “periods of times, when I was struggling with my addiction, that I didn’t see my son,” and daughter Portia for whose birth he had been in the hospital room. “That was the main thing that kept me from being around my kids, was when I was in active use.” His drug problem — drinking to marijuana to crack cocaine — had begun before Nathan was born. “When it went into full-blown addiction I didn’t even know what was going on for quite a bit of time. But when you’re a young kid out there and you’re drinking and this and that, at a functional stage you have no idea what addiction is. “But when things began to become unmanageable for me, that’s when I began to say 'Something is wrong, I can’t stop.' "It wasn’t until I come to a place called the Regeneration Center that I began to understand what addiction was and why things were so out of control, why I was out of control.” When he was in recovery, he said, “me Nathan and Portia were close. When I was sober we hung out together, we did things together.” He’s now back at the Regeneration Center, he said, “The same place that my recovery started." Earler, he was “at this place down in Lake Worth, called Project Success, that was a two-year program. "And during the whole time that I was there, at Project Success, me and my daughter was going places, doing things…And they was telling me ‘Maybe your son has got some issues and stuff, be patient with him don’t like run him off,’ and that kind of thing. "That’s when I was trying to do, be patient with him. And I was trying to get to a point where I could really sit down him one-on-one and talk to him, and spend some alone time with him. “And when I was in the process of doing that, all this here came way out of left field…Because I had no idea, that he was down there doing some things or around that area hanging out with these guys. "All this other this other stuff, hanging out with guys that had guns, and getting into trouble and that kind of thing…If I had known all that was going on, that would have been a situation where I probably would have strong-armed him a little bit. Saying ‘What’s going on Junior, let me talk to you about it.’ "But (family members were) saying he was just down in Dunbar Village hanging out, it’s ok, everything’s fine, that kind of thing, and it really, really, really wasn’t." Does he think his son was using any drugs? “I was told that he was using pot, marijuana. And I don’t know, it could have been some times that I was hearing but I wasn’t sure, I know about the pot smoking, but at times there may have been some pills or something that he may have had, I’m not sure.” Why do you think he wasn’t supervised that night? “Probably because I think Junior, there may have been some problems with him and his mother, and he probably much probably didn’t want to be around in the home. There may have been some problems there. And that’s why he may have been over Avion’s house or whoever house over at Dunbar Village…That’s what I’m thinking." Why do you think your son didn’t confess? “I think it was more fear. He was scared.” Do you feel that he’s sorry? “Very much so. I think he has learned a valuable lesson. Valuable lesson.” He explained that Nathan “wasn’t able to read because he has a slow learning disability. It’s hard for him to comprehend some words. It’s one of the reasons why he was receiving some kind of disability… “I remember even times when, I couldn’t figure it out but, how frustrated he would get when I would sit down and try to help him with his homework and he couldn’t comprehend it. He would get very frustrated, that kind of thing. "I know how very frustrating it was for him, you know. Not to the point where he gets angry. It wasn’t angry or anything, not outraged or anything. It was in between sadness and, ‘Why can’t I understand?’ That kind of thing on his face. “I feel that I have to accept my own responsibility in that part because I really feel that I could have did something myself too at the same time.” During a break, Nathan far right. During a break, Nathan far right. Can you remember times when Nathan was at peace? “I saw that when he was with me. When he was around the environment I was in. When he was around the ministries and stuff he smiled all the time, played basketball. "In fact he learned how to, he started shooting basketball, learned how to shoot basketball right here, right I this backyard here, that’s when he started shooting a little basketball. So I saw a lot of that when he was around Christian people. When he was around this ministry.” Might he be able to make that kind of connection while incarcerated? “Right. I’m praying for that. I really am.” Your hopes for him? “My hopes for him at this particular time is that he really look to the Lord and really get into His word, look towards salvation…I really wanna say I’m hoping that if God was to free him, that he educate himself while he’s there and come back being able to provide for himself and witness to the good news of the Gospel.” Did he talk to you about the (victim) mother and son? “I asked, ‘Did you have sex with her?’ He said ‘No I didn’t have sex with her I didn’t do that, that kind of thing.’ And he really, a lot of the times he really didn’t want talk about anything, like, with the case. We really just enjoyed each other father and son, talked about life in general.” He didn’t want to think about it? “That’s what I’m thinking, he didn’t want to think about it. Or there may have been a thing where he was told not to talk about it.” After sitting and listening to all the testimony in the trial, what do you think happened? "I’m thinking in my mind that my son somehow, he got around these kids and…I don’t think he initiated it, but I think there was probably a burglary or something like that  where he may have entered in a home and it started to take place. "And it was more of a thing where, I don’t think in his mind of mind or in his heart of hearts that he didn’t think all that was gonna happen. It was probably in his heart of hearts where he thought where, ‘Oh, we gonna go in there and get some money and get up out of there,’ that kind of thing. “And after it probably began to happen, and there probably was some peer pressure that probably kept him there. And he may have been on something at the time probably that helped influence his thought capacity…Because if my son felt his life was in danger he probably would allow something like that to happen. “And I think after that, he got caught up in the event. And I’m thinking, I’m really looking at the point that where, I don’t think he had no gun. I don’t think he had no gun. He might have covered up his face, that whole situation.” Did he say anything to you about the woman’s son? “He just said that he knew, I think he knew the little boy from around being in the neighborhood, that kind of thing. That’s the only thing that I remember that he said.” His speculation on the allegedly 10 youths’ mindset that night? “I really can’t, I really can’t answer that question. I don’t know. I really don’t know. I’m still trying to figure out the mindset that they had. I’m still puzzled about any of the kids the mindset that they had, especially my own child. It’s a puzzle to me when it comes down to that.” Did he have concerns with the case being decided by all-white jurors? “I felt that there should have been some people that were there that kind of understood the black man’s struggle or the kids’ struggle. I’m feeling that a lot of them haven’t really had no idea, no experience of coming from a minority home, what it’s like.” He described a stressful situation with his former wife such that, “That’s one of the reasons I got up out of the home. And it felt bad for me to leave my kids there, all of the kids.” His thoughts regarding the victims of the assault: “A lot of it was the first time me really actually hearing, in detail, in court, what went on. And I could hardly hold back tears back. And I really, I was telling some friends, I really do, I really do feel for what happened to the mother and the child. Nobody should endure such things. “I can’t imagine, what was going through the kids’ heads, inflicting that inflict that type of abuse on someone. “So I really sympathize with what happened to them. My eyes were…my heart was, my heart was broken. Listening to all that, for the first time, my heart was truly broken.” DSCN1175

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Monday
Aug312009

Harlem, Dunbar Village, in contrast

Zoot-suited "Sweetback" and "Jelly" — Corey Vaughn-Patterson of Palm Beach Gardens High School and Byron McCarty, William T. Dyer High School grad — bring to life a scene from Zora Neale Hurston's 'Spunk!' Zoot-suited "Sweetback" and "Jelly" — Corey Vaughn-Patterson of Palm Beach Gardens High School and Byron McCarty, William T. Dyer High School grad — bring to life a scene from Zora Neale Hurston's 'Spunk!' during Sunday's Delta Sigma Theta "Salute to the Harlem Renaissance." C.B. Hanif for WAOD: The contrast was a stunning. Onstage Sunday was a diverse set of young people, students and their mentors, displaying outstanding talent during their "Youth in the Arts" program. Yet on the minds and tongues of many in the audience were Friday's gang-rape and assault convictions of two then-teenagers for their shocking actions two years ago at nearby Dunbar Village. The youths onstage stood out for the skills they had developed in theatre and dance, the visual, instrumental and vocal arts, and for the lives of future hope and fulfilment they represented. Suggesting the need for another renaissance were the accomplished young artists who lined the stage for collective bow. The contrast with the accomplished young artists who filled the stage suggested the need for another renaissance. The youths who were led from the courtroom Friday, after their multi-count guilty verdicts were read, stood out for the depravity of their sexual assault on a mother and her son, and the possible rest of their lives in prison that they, and an accomplice who pleaded guilty, face when a judge sentences them October 13. The youths onstage were beneficiaries of support from the parents and teachers who nurtured them, the appreciative audience of community members present to encourage them, and community institutions such as the West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, which organized and hosted the event, and Palm Beach Community College, on whose north campus the "Salute to the Harlem Renaissance" was held. Dramatists evoked Harlem's renaissance days. Dramatists evoked Harlem's renaissance days. In contrast is the troubled family circumstances of the convicted youths, the prison inmate families awaiting them, the general societal lack of investment in the possibilities of others like them, and the question whether, had they been gifted with different growing and learning environments, life would have been different for them. In random conversations through the evening, a guest was overheard saying it long had been clear that one of the convicted youths, unresponsive to school officials' efforts to help him, had been headed for trouble. Another guest said to another who said to another that the sexual torment by as many as 10 African-American youths on the Haitian mother and her son, on that sad night at Dunbar Village, unquestionably was a hate crime; Haitians having been considered the lowest of the low when she was growing up here. In contrast was a another who grew up here: actor, director and business owner Karen Stephens, whose gifted theater students were onstage in the Hurston segment she had produced. Karen Stephens, third from podium, and other directors/artists. Karen Stephens, third from podium, taking a bow with other directors/artists. She has shared her thoughtful perpectives in a video interview for WAOD whose third installments continue here: Director's, residents' responsibilities Community on trial? Demolish Dunbar Village? DSCN1584

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