Field Notes: The Ballad of Kenneth Gant (Pt 2)

Kenneth and Kentrell’s mother showed up to court in a T-shirt that read “Stop The Drama."  Her face said, “not this again."  Her short hair had the faint memory of a red dye job and she wore a tiny red piercing in her left brow. There was no mention of her health, her heart problems, her cancer. None of it exists.

Kenneth is more aware than his brother and it becomes apparent that Kentrell has never been more than Kenneth’s shadow.  Their mischief is real and it flirts with violence.  Kenneth:


Make no mistake, their transgressions are real, but these are not gun-toting, liquor store robbing, car jacking thugs.  Could they become that?  Absolutely.

But for now they are petty thieves, they are thuggish among their own, and they are territorialists, proud animals.  They run with gang members in a place and time when every neighborhood, the prosecutor tells me, has its own gang.

At one point in the trial the prosecutor questions their probation officer about a situation that landed Kentrell  in LCJC on another occasion.  It was told that Kentrell had thrown cinder block fragments at another young man.  Kentrell:

No details are shared about what really transpired, just that Kentrell assailed this individual with a broken cinder block.  That’s an ugly scene, but it’s just a glimpse.  It may have been worse than it sounds.  It may not have been.  In the tapestry of startling stories coming from the inner city, I’m not sure how it stacks up.

In any case, as soon as mention is made of Kentrell’s involvement in this incident, Kenneth puts his hands over his face and weeps.

I see the responsibility he feels for his brother.  I see that he feels responsible for that incident, and later when I ask him about that he says, “I should have taught him better.”

And the weeping doesn’t stop, though it hides behind grimaces of anguish until the Probation Officer testifies that home is no place for Kenneth and Kentrell, that he believes they need to be detained until further psychological evaluations can be performed in order that their issues can be better explored.

He was probably right and shortly thereafter the judge agreed, ruling that the boys stay in detention pending these evaluations.  Both boys break down, sob, swear, and mother gets up without looking at them and hurriedly leaves the courtroom.

Posted on June 21, 2010 and filed under Behind The Scenes w/ Calamari.