Rashawn & Beyond: Anti-Violence News for Queer People of Color

The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund aims to establish a sustainable tribute to Rashawn that promotes critical thought about the impact of violence and intolerance, particularly upon queer communities of African descent.

Through this blog, we provide action alerts, event postings and breaking news as a means of informing these communities in ways that enable them to combat racism and homophobia.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

He noticed good in all

years after slaying, son's love inspires mom


Desire Brazell wakes each morning and gives herself the same pep talk: There is good in all people, she says, repeating the words of her late son, Rashawn.
But it's a constant struggle for Brazell to believe that the person who carved up her 19-year-old boy and spread his remains across Brooklyn is anything but pure evil.

"I tell people it's because of [Rashawn] that I don't have the hatred in my heart," Brazell said from her Brooklyn home. "Because of the type of person that he was, he just wouldn't understand that. I learned so much from him, especially about caring and people."

It's been two years since transit workers found a bag stuffed with Rashawn's arm and legs in a Bedford-Stuyvesant subway tunnel. A piece of his pelvis was recovered in a Greenpoint recycling plant five days later.

The killer has not been found.

Rashawn's family, friends and even strangers inspired by him plan to meet Saturday for a candlelight vigil at the Nostrand Ave. station to mark the anniversary.

"To return to the place where ... his remains were found is really brave and courageous, and really speaks to Desire's love for her son," said Larry Lyons, 25, a doctoral candidate at Princeton University who co-founded the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund, a scholarship fund.

Rashawn, who wanted to work in health care, was last seen Feb. 14, 2005, after leaving his Bushwick home to apply for jobs and get his taxes done.

Police initially believed the teen, who was gay, was killed after arranging a date over the Internet with a man, but no evidence has surfaced to support the theory.

Rashawn's head and other body parts are still missing, and the case has stumped NYPD investigators, despite a $22,000 reward, three segments on "America's Most Wanted" and an aggressive campaign soliciting information from the public.

The teen's high school graduation photo appears on reward posters across the city, said Detective Richard Amato.

In the meantime, his mother's struggle continues.

Rashawn was not only her best friend, she said, but that of countless others. The popular teen made it his mission to help neglected or abused youths.

"I used to say, 'Rashawn, you can't help everybody,'" his mother recalled. "And he said, 'Mom, that's not true. You can find some good in anybody.'"

"You could get his last dollar out of his pocket," she said. He was free-hearted. That's why it hurts me so bad that somebody could take his life like that."

Originally published on February 12, 2007


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