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.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Find his killer: Mom of butchered Bushwick man wants answers

Source: Daily News

Desire Brazell holds photo of her slain son, Rashawn (below), in her Brooklyn home.

Just one phone call.

That is all grieving mother Desire Brazell prays for.

Since Rashawn Brazell's butchered body was found scattered across Brooklyn three years ago, his mom has lived with the added burden of fear that the killer will strike again.

"I hope someone can call in and give the information we need to close this case," said Desire Brazell. "I don't want any family to go through what I went through."

Tomorrow, the Brazells will lead a memorial march in the 19-year-old victim's honor from his old Bushwick apartment to the Bedford-Stuyvesant subway station where his body parts were first found.

They hope the walk will stir up public interest in the case leading to that one clue pointing cops towards Rashawn Brazell's killer.

During the predawn hours of Feb. 17, 2005, two transit workers found a bloody trash bag in the tunnel of the Nostrand Avenue station. The bag contained Brazell's right shoulder, right arm, and lower legs, police said.

Five days later, another grisly discovery: a piece of Brazell's pelvis was found in a Greenpoint recycling plant.

Police have chased down many possibilities behind the sick murder - from angry gay lovers to a twisted serial killer.

Even "America's Most Wanted" picked up the case, airing at least three shows featuring the slaying.

"We have chased hundreds of leads across the country, and we are not closer today than we were in 2005," said Lt. John Cornicello, commander of the NYPD's Brooklyn North homicide squad.

"It is very hard to say after all this time that there is nothing new. It is a shame."

Detectives have flown all over the country - from Florida to Colorado - hunting leads, said police.

Investigators spent time in Texas sniffing around a duffel bag factory after DNA evidence proved that an empty black bag sitting in the subway tunnel was used to carry the victim's corpse.

To keep the case active, detectives have busied themselves blanketing the city with flyers featuring Brazell's sad story and combing the dance floors of popular gay clubs, hoping for a hint about how he died.

Desire Brazell refuses to give up.

She is confident that one day the right tip will finally deliver the justice she is longing for.

"This person is sill living amongst us," she said. There is $22,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Tipsters can call CrimeStoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bringing Justice Home: A March for Rashawn


Three years after the brutal murder of her son, Desire Brazell literally sees him everywhere. Much of the city is covered in posters offering a $12,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Rashawn’s killer; the Nostrand Avenue subway station where his dismembered remains were discovered in February 2005, the streets of Greenwich Village where he enjoyed nights out with friends and even on several Jersey-bound PATH trains. Everywhere but in the bustling Bushwick neighborhood that he called home.

With each day that witnesses and would-be informants remain silent about the crime, the callous murderer that killed her 19-year old son gains a little more time to elude justice. So, after three years without a single suspect in custody, Desire believes that the time has come for the Bushwick community that embraced and nurtured Rashawn to aid in tracking down his killer. On Saturday, August 30th, Desire will be directing an hour-long flyering session geared toward soliciting tips from neighbors and commuters who might have information about what happened on Valentine’s day of 2005 when her son left their Gates Avenue apartment, never to be seen again. Her message is a simple one: if you want justice, you have to start at home.

And Desire will not be alone. After posting reward flyers throughout the area where Rashawn was raised, Desire will lead NYPD officers, elected officials, activists and concerned community members in a march to the subway stop where her son’s severed body parts were found to proclaim that no parent should ever lose their child to homophobic violence or intolerance of any kind. Also joining her will be the parents and families of gay and lesbian people of color from New York and New Jersey who have been jailed, assaulted, killed or treated unjustly because of their identities.

Desire is supported by the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund, which honors the teen’s legacy by granting $1500 scholarships annually to college-bound NYC students committed to the fight against racism, sexism and homophobia. Invited guests include NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Councilwoman Letitia James, Kimma Dandridge (mother of the New Jersey Four’s Terrain Dandridge), Denise and Ezekiel Sandy (parents of the late Michael Sandy) and LaTona Gunn (mother of the late Sakia Gunn.

For more information about the march, visit www.RashawnBrazell.com/news.