How we ignore the long-term effects of violence on children, adults and our communities
At 10:45 on the night of March 13, 2009, Rodney Orange waited for his 14-year-old grandson, Gregory Robinson, to arrive home. Gregory had been at a high school basketball game, and as the car he rode in pulled up outside the house, Mr. Orange heard the sound of semi-automatic weapons. He remembers two distinct sounds of gunfire, suggesting there were two shooters. More than 50 shots were fired. He rushed to the car. Gregory had been sitting in the backseat and had thrown his body on top of his two younger cousins, one five years old, the other nine months. He saved their lives. Gregory was shot in the back.
“He wasn’t responding to me,” Mr. Orange recalled. “It was like he was saying, ‘I’m OK, but this is hurting.’ That’s the way he was. He wouldn’t scream and holler. But it hurt. It hurt so bad.” When Mr. Orange, a dignified, stolid man, related this story, it was clear he was talking both about himself and his grandson. Gregory died later that night.
Gregory Robinson’s burial is the opening scene of The Interrupters, the film I made with my longtime friend Steve James, and I tell the story of Gregory’s family because it speaks to the profound, unrelenting pain of losing someone to the streets.
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