But Had He REALLY Won Some Money?

Two more arrests in the murder last July of David McReynolds, a poor but sweet man in the rapidly gentrifying Grant Park neighborhood. He was murdered in the street walking home from the convenience store.

Soon after the crime, McReynolds wife told FOX 5 that the man family members called “Bubba” walked to the store each day for a lottery ticket. She believes word spread that he had hit a big number, and she believes someone followed him from the store.

In October, Atlanta investigators arrested 23-year-old Andre Byrd in connection with the killing, but this community knew there were more suspects out there and raised money for a reward for information.

This story is not only sad in and of itself but also gives a clear example of the racial and class conflicts involved in gentrifying neighborhoods, where poor and nearly always black people live in a completely separate universe from the affluent and nearly always white people who are moving in, fixing up the houses and taking over. McReynolds, part of the former group, went every day to the ghetto convenience store to buy a lotto ticket.

Since gentrifying white people would never go to that store nor ever play the lottery, they would have no idea what was going on and why this friendly man whose name they probably didn’t know got murdered on the sidewalk. They just got very upset—my Facebook feed lit right up—at the outrage “those barbarians” committed. Most of them were arguably less upset about the man’s death than the intrusion of crime into the neighborhood they see as theirs (they pay most of the taxes, after all). One of the most consistent characteristics of gentrifiers is that they’re absolutely outraged when crime happens in the unsafe neighborhood they just moved into, as if they expected something different.

But in that parallel universe, one of near-total illiteracy, conspiracy theories and short-term thinking, somehow the word got out that McReynolds had won something that day. As in, hundreds, not millions nor even thousands. And three people too stupid to figure out that their own community would dime them out for fifty bucks decided that the big score that had surely multiplied itself by then was totally worth committing murder in broad daylight on an open sidewalk.

From a fiction perspective, the story makes a nice short one: picture the white gentrifiers and the original residents across the street, fifty feet away but worlds apart, each with their own perspective on the crime. This would actually be pretty fun to write; the only pitfall is that it’s difficult, as a white man, to write about these residents without coming off as a racist—that I’m characterizing them as stupid because they’re black, when really it’s more that they’re downtrodden poor people. It’s just that within the Perimeter, all downtrodden poor people are nonwhite.

The crucial detail that all the news stories miss is whether McReynolds actually had won anything in the lottery, or whether it was just the sort of sidewalk radio rumor that everyone believed because they wanted to. In the story, this would have to remain unknown as well.

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2 Comments

  1. A Surge in Crappy Policiing | Julian Cage
  2. The Archetypal Atlanta Crime | Julian Cage

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