While I was in Detroit, 17-year-old Chaise Sherrors was shot and killed while giving a haircut on a porch. We met his mother, Britta McNeal. Britta was broken, often lost in memory while her eyes filled and sometimes tears flowed. From her porch, she stared across the street that ran in front of her humble one-story on the East Side. She stared at a half-burnt skeleton of a house, gutted inside and out, and a constant reminder of her misery. Britta’s grandson played in broken glass and garbage that littered the driveway of the abandoned house next door. Gang graffiti added the only touch of color to the black and gray left behind by a fire. Britta showed us the urn containing the remains of her 14-year-old son, De’Erion. He too was shot on Detroit’s East Side, killed a year before his older brother. After Chaise’s funeral, Britta will have two urns to decorate her mantel.
“I know society looks at a person like me and wants me to go away,” Britta said. “‘Go ahead, walk in the Detroit River and disappear.’ But I can’t. I’m alive. I need help. But when you call for help, it seems like no one’s there.”