In a small Miami-Dade courtroom, Arleen White stared at the man who killed her 15-year-old son, Anthony, and spoke of her pain -- and her gratitude to God:
''I can't even function. I can't even look people in the face sometimes because I'm full of tears,'' she said.
And yet, ''I give God thanks for this day,'' she said. ``Because when this is all over . . . I ain't got to worry about nobody gunning down my boy in the street because you already did that.''
Behind White were her husband, family members and a small group of new friends -- black men and women, all, who understood better than anyone else in the courtroom the complex mix of pain and frustration in her words.
They have all lost children to homicides in Miami-Dade. And they have become ''a club that nobody, no parent, wants to be part of,'' according to Queen Brown. Brown became part of the group -- and an antiviolence radio-show host -- after her youngest son, Eviton, was killed in 2006 at age 24.
''My son was the 200th homicide victim'' of that year, Brown said.
Police statistics indicate that overall crime hasn't increased very much in Miami-Dade County since 2003 -- but homicides involving blacks age 24 and under have been steadily climbing.
They jumped from 47 in 2003 to 76 in 2007, according to the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner's Office. This year, 50 young blacks have been killed as of June 28.
These parents don't need to see the statistics to know there's a problem. Their friendships are the result of shared, horrific tragedies. One bereaved parent reached out to another, and the group grew from there.
The parents who have come together in this club with no name spend their time organizing and attending antiviolence rallies. They help one another remember their loved ones on certain milestone dates, such as birthdays or death anniversaries.
And because they believe the problem isn't confined to the streets, they also show up at court hearings on occasion.
Several of the group members showed up at the August 2007 hearing where Arleen White spoke to her son's killer. Queen Brown spoke of the young people who have been charged in the violence.
''We have law enforcement, homicide working so hard to put the pieces together to bring them into the system,'' she said. ``We have the corrections department that keeps them incarcerated. But for some reason they have a revolving door that they get out when they come in here. And I can't quite understand it.''
She and the other parents were particularly concerned that day: Prosecutors and defense attorneys had agreed to a deal in which the suspect in Anthony White's slaying, Jason Robert Hall, pleaded guilty to manslaughter. In return, Hall was sentenced to the time he had already served in jail, 4 ½ years.
Anthony was shot when he opened the door of the family's small duplex in Little Haiti. A group of men entered the house and demanded money and ''dope.'' White told authorities she gave one of the men $760 from a jacket she wore the day before and a small container of marijuana stored on a kitchen shelf.
Hall confessed to being the shooter, but he said the gun fired accidentally. He was just 14 at the time and was charged with second-degree murder. He later recanted his statement to police, claiming he was coerced. In time, prosecutors became convinced that evidence in the case was compromised -- and that winning a ''guilty'' verdict was unlikely.