Urban Promise Prep Student
Rumor has it a student brought a gun to school the day of the murder. You didn’t hear that from me.
Anacostia High School Student
We can’t believe the things we see, we can only believe the things we feel. I thought I could believe in J.B. because I could feel how much he liked me. Or at least I thought I could, until he stood me up. The day after we got so close. When he had told me he’d meet me after school and we’d go to the game together. That we’d be together. Officially.
He swore he was different. Not like other guys. Better than them. And against my gut feeling, he convinced me to trust him. And maybe I still do? But my head’s a mess and I don’t know anything right now.
Agh, I feel like such a fool. I got used, or tricked. Now I feel bad about myself, and that ain’t fair. Even thinking about it pisses me off.
Every time I close my eyes, the night plays over and over again. Me dragging myself to the game all alone, ready to confront J.B. But when I arrived, I saw him covered in blood.
I froze right there in the school doorway.
We both did.
Everything I’d wanted to scream at him bubbled up, getting stuck in my mouth.
My thoughts raced. Did he get hurt? Was that the reason he hadn’t picked me up like he said he would? Is that why he hadn’t called or texted me back?
“It wasn’t my fault…,” he whispered while trying to catch his breath. He then took off. He clearly wasn’t injured, not moving that fast.
He disappeared into the darkness of the evening.
Of course, at the time I didn’t know about Principal Moore. Everyone’s saying J.B. killed that man, but I mean, part of me can’t believe that.
On the other hand, I know what I saw, J.B. with blood all over his shirt and his words replaying over and over again in my head. “It wasn’t my fault.”
Every time I start to believe in something, I’m reminded that everyone around here is so fake. I guess you never truly know a person.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope J.B. is innocent.
Urban Promise Prep Employee
Don’t get me wrong, I care about the work. It’s this place that I can’t stand.
When I told my friends I’d be working at Urban Promise Prep, they all warned me about it being all male, but I figured I could handle it. I have to deal with nasty men twenty-four hours a day. Every school I’ve worked at, every bus ride, every stroll down the street, every grocery trip, men hit on me. Why would Promise Prep be any different? Right?
At Urban Promise, I was incredibly uncomfortable, nervous; you know the feeling. Principal Moore created a boiling pot of toxic masculinity and male fragility. You think I’m talking about the students, but no. The kids are kids, they don’t know any better. It’s the adults. The teachers, the security guards, the leadership.
They encouraged the behavior. Last year, a boy circulated some inappropriate video he made with a young girl so the security guards searched his things and confiscated his phone. It was the right thing to do. But he never actually got detention or suspension. Not even a slap on the wrist! And worse, I saw the guards in the break room passing around the dang phone, watching the thing before they deleted it. Snickering over literal child pornography, cracking jokes about the young lady in the video. They didn’t even think twice. Just no sense of … morality when it came to women at Urban Promise.
But Moore didn’t care about that. As long as the boys were in line, these men could act a fool. You know, Moore is so pristine in the public eye, but he wasn’t squeaky clean either. He did the little things like hug me too long or put his hand on the small of my back when he spoke to me in the hall.
Also, call me ridiculous or whatever, but I swear he had an alcohol problem. I’ve treated plenty of patients with drinking habits and Moore fit the bill. His mood would change at the drop of a dime. Sometimes smooth as silk, charming and gregarious, supportive and kind. Then other times, I’ve seen him snap at kids, snap at teachers, even snap at Dean Hicks. And lately, it’d been worse than usual.
Anyway. Guess you could say I don’t think it’s as much of a loss as other people do.
As far as the boys they’re questioning about his murder, I didn’t really know them, but I did see J.B. the day of the shooting. He came to me to get his hand bandaged. He scraped it pretty bad after punching something.
“What happened?” I asked him. His fists were clenched tight, like he was trying to dig his nails into his own skin. The deep brown of it threaded with blood.
“Nothing,” he mumbled.
“Can’t be nothing if you’re here with your hand looking like this.” I tried to smile at him, make him more comfortable since his knuckles were so shredded.
I did my best to clean the wound, but he wouldn’t loosen his hand. Not the entire time he sat in the office. He just glared off into the distance, jaw clenched, like he couldn’t wait to do something more with that messed-up fist.
I walked backward to my desk before telling him he could leave. A weird instinct came over me. I didn’t want to turn my back to him. Not with the anger radiating off him like heat. Like he could swing again at any moment, his hands needing a punching bag, something, anything to connect with in this moment. That’s someone who is accustomed to violence. At that young age? Makes me shudder.
So, yeah. I’m looking for a new school to work at.
Mercy Academy for Girls Student
Those poor boys. So full of anger. It’s because of their life circumstances though, right? I mean, imagine if you lived in poverty, were racially profiled, and a victim of systemic inequity. You would be too. That’s why I choose to tutor at Promise. To make a difference. With my white privilege, I see it as my responsibility.
But even with all that, I can’t bring myself to understand why they’d kill Principal Moore. Especially after all he’s done for them. It’s just a tragedy.
They say they have three suspects. Everyone’s been talking and DC is smaller than you think. Word travels fast. I actually tutored one of them.
Ramón is just the nicest kid. There’s something … angelic about him. I love how, like, authentic he is about his culture. Making … I think it’s called pahpooses? The little biscuit things. I heard he makes them with his grandma. How sweet is that?
I went into overdrive trying to get him fluent in English because it’d help land him more opportunities. Not to mention it was my duty. And Ramón really took to it. In fact, a few weeks ago, I would’ve said there’s no way he did this. And a part of me still feels that in my heart. Though I saw … um, let’s just say I heard he can have a temper.
But there’s hope for him. It’s probably one of the other boys they arrested.
Like … Trey Jackson.
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