Belinda Leggett is the kind of African-American mom who reared her son Charles and daughter Delia in church. In many ways, she is very much like me: She loves the Lord and has faith in the human race and brought up her two children to respect the law and their elders.
“I used to tell them that if they were ever stopped by the police to be respectful, even if the officer was rude to them. I told them, if the officer called them names and was nasty to them, they should still be respectful, but to remember the officer’s name and badge number,” Leggett said.
On July 18, some of that faith was shattered and her advice to her children concerning rude police officers came back to haunt her when she learned her son, Charles Kinsey — hands raised in submission — had been shot by a white police officer, Jonathan Aledda.
“I’d called my grandson [Kinsey’s son] to ask him to do something for me. But before I could say why I’d called, my grandson said, ‘Grandma, you son has been shot.’ It was like my heart stopped beating at the news,” Leggett said.
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“I couldn’t believe it. I was devastated. At the time I didn’t know it was the police who had shot him. When I learned that it was, I wanted to know, ‘Why?’ My son has always been a law-abiding, hardworking young man,. He had two jobs. It was such a shock. ... A lot of questions popped into my mind: ‘What happened? What did he do? Where was he when he was shot?’”
Kinsey, Leggett said, had never given her any trouble. He attended Miami Northwestern High School, but dropped out in the 11th grade. He later went back to school and earned his GED, and eventually took college courses online. Twice married, Kinsey is the father of five and grandfather of 10.
“He is a compassionate man, which is why Arnaldo (Eliud Rios Soto) was so attached to him,” Leggett said. “When my grandson finally told me Charles had been taken to the hospital, I went straight over there. I could hardly breathe. I didn’t know anything about the shooting. ... I didn’t know how many times, or even if he was dead until I got to the hospital and learned he was shot in the leg. All I could say then was, ‘Thank you, Jesus, thank, you Jesus!’”
Leggett said her son, 47, has moved from his home to another location “to get some rest.”
“He couldn’t sleep the first few days after the shooting,” she said. “He was so concerned about Arnaldo ... because he had become so attached to him.”
Since the shooting, Leggett and her son have become more concerned than ever about racism, especially in the police department, she said.
“It seems like he was hunted down like an animal,” she said. “He could have died. The rifle the officer shot him with looked like something that you’d shoot a wild animal with ... it looked like an assault rifle.”
As she tries to get past that day, the one thing that she can’t seem to get out of her mind is seeing her son on his back on the hot pavement — his arms raised in surrender, begging for his life. “He tried to tell the officers that the young man had a toy truck, not a gun, and that he [Kinsey] was the caregiver. But the officer shot shot him anyway... He told me he begged the officer not to shoot him, saying, ‘Man, please don’t shoot me, don’t shoot me.’”
Leggett said she believes her son will need some counseling to help him deal with the ordeal. “His whole life just flashed in front of him that day,” she said.
As for her: “I’m just hanging in here, giving God thanks and praising Him for sparing my son’s life,” she said.
NEW SENIOR PASTOR AT FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
A warm Neighbors in Religion welcome to the Rev. Phillip Short, who has been named the new senior pastor at First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables. And if the name rings a bell, it’s because the new senior pastor is the son of retired pastor the Rev. Dr. Riley Short, who served the church from 1981-92.
A graduate of Auburn University and Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, Short started at First United Methodist of Coral Gables on July 1. He previously served for eight years at the First Methodist Church in Lake Wales, and 11 years in Stuart, where he led those congregations in revitalization efforts.
Short is a third-generation clergy member with ties to the church that go back to his great-grandparents on his mother’s side, who were early arrivals to Coral Gables. His mother grew up at First Methodist of Coral Gables and his sister, Sally Matson, also raised her family in the church. “So my nieces make five generations in this church. I am humbled to be part of that legacy as well,” he said.
He said he is honored to follow in the legacy of his father and subsequent Gables Methodist pastors and join in God’s work through the community. “After 29 years of ordained ministry, he is still excited about the adventure of discovery as a disciple of Jesus Christ,” the younger Short said. “My Dad had a rich rewarding ministry here in Coral Gables. He has been much loved and well-remembered in every church that he has ever served, and Coral Gables First is no exception. I am proud to be working with a a generation of leaders that he helped raise up.”
Short and Giova, his wife of 23 years, are the parents of a daughter, Carmen, who recently graduated from Wake Forest University.
MARDI GRAS SCHOLARSHIP DANCE
Holy Redeemer Catholic Church at 1301 NW 71st St. in Liberty City will have its second annual Mardi Gras scholarship dance at 7 p.m. on Aug. 5, in the church’s M. Athalie Range Parish Hall. The scholarship is named in honor of the late Dr. Earl and Barbara Allen. Earl Allen was a renowned obstetrician/gynecologist. He and Barbara were members of the church.
The Mardi Gras dance will benefit the church’s youth by providing scholarships to those who plan to pursue college, technical, and United States military education. The scholarship was initiated by Allen over 20 years ago.
Tickets to the dance are $20 each and the event will feature the Miami Bahamas Junkanoo Band.
For tickets and more information call 305-691-1701 or email email@example.com
FOOD, HEALTH FAIR AND CLOTHES GIVEAWAY
The first Food, Health Fair and Clothes giveaway will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Gibson-Bethel Community Center, 5800 SW 66th St. in South Miami.
The event is sponsored by Pumps, Pearls and Portfolios (PP&P), an organization dedicated to serving communities that are in disparity for lack of self-sufficiency. Its aim is to teach and mentor those who have a desire to take care of themselves and their family unit.
At the event attendees will be able to buy an article of ready-to-wear clothing for $1, and get the second article of clothing free. Proceeds will benefit the organization’s Getting Ready for Work program.
Call 305-772-7001 for more information.
BARRY SOCIAL WORK PROFESSOR SUSAN GRAY HONORED
Congratulations to Susan Gray, professor emeritus at Barry University School of Social Work and a noted author, who recently received the National Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Social Workers for her decades of work improving the treatment of people living with mental illness and educating future.
Gray is the author of “Psychopathology: A Competency-based Treatment Model for Social Workers,” “Psychopathology: A Competency-based Assessment Model for Social Workers,” “Competency-based Assessment in Mental Health: Cases and Practical Applications,” and more than 30 other publications.
“Dr. Gray has worked relentlessly to ensure people who experience an mental illness have the help they need to build on their strengths and thrive,” said Angelo McClain, CEO of the social workers association. “She has distinguished herself within the social work profession by serving in numerous leadership roles, educating and mentoring countless other social workers, and authoring books and other publications that have contributed greatly to advances in social work knowledge.”
At Barry, Gray also chaired the Faculty Senate. “Gray’s work has enriched the entire social work profession and she has helped countless clients who have received services from her or from the many social workers she has trained, mentored or informed through her publications,” McClain said.
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