To great fanfare Liberty Square was built

in 1937, attracting many middle-class Black families.

–The Miami Herald




My mama had lavish garden plots. She planted

sweet potatoes, collards & beans. The tomatoes

were larger than my father’s hands. The mangoes,

round as my baby sister’s head. No need to lock

our doors, nor close our windows. Our sleep was sweet

when the midnight breeze slipped through our rooms.

The peace of Paradise was ours. The white folks

lived far on the other side of a painted yellow

knee-high wall, but we paid those folks no mind.

Trumpeters marched through here on Friday nights.

Calypso swelled. We danced the streets like freedom.

When daylight came that same old wall flashed

like a warning, like a promise never guaranteed.

Everybody worked & raised their children. Nobody

bothered us.

These days in Liberty Square,

the people are living through war, & we can’t run.

Every which way the bullets are chasing us.

I miss my parents every day, but I’m glad

they’ve passed so they’re not here to see this mess.

What happened to Mrs. Jenkins’ daughter

would’ve made my mama talk to God all hours.

Her prayers would’ve spilled out into the square

where teddy bears and candles bless the dead.



What is agreed upon is this:

the defendants, Damon Darling

& Leroy LaRose, were involved

in a shoot-out in Liberty Square

after a failed marijuana deal.

A girl was shot dead.


Judge, don’t call my daughter dead!

My daughter is not a bullet.

My daughter is an honors student.

My daughter plays violin.

Don’t call her dead again!



What is agreed upon is this: The State of Florida versus Damon Darling.

DD: My real story won’t ink the paper.

Reporters will spill their pens & spin

their sentences & say I was nothing

more than a felon, a murderer.

I didn’t mean to kill that girl.

I’ve got a Mama & sisters,

but I grew up on a street

where I had to keep my head

on a swivel, & my ears peeled

for every tire squeal. I don’t know

my daddy from the man on the corner

spouting scriptures. But I do know

juries send men like me to jail. They

don’t know I only bought a gun

to protect myself.



What is agreed upon is this: The State of Florida versus Leroy LaRose.

LL: A person is what they grow up seeing.

Do you know how many people I saw

murdered before I was ten?

All of us were bound by the dead.

I was a straight-A student,

& a member of the National Honor Society.

My teachers told Moms I could be anything,

but I guess that never sank in.

Math was real natural to me. Equations

swirled in my head. My friends

used to joke: Man, you better at Trig

than Mr. St. Fleur, & then we’d laugh.

The day that girl got killed

was the worst day of my life.

If I could have took that bullet for her,

I would without hesitating.

I have my own kids, & I see the mother’s pain

when we’re in court. It’s like

I’m looking into my future,

like Mrs. Jenkins’ face

is a goddamn crystal ball

& all I see is my own son’s blood.



The case in front of the Honorable M. T. Mendez

in the circuit court of the 11th Judicial Circuit.


We’re here on several motions, Judge.

This neighborhood grew out of segregation.R.I.P. Anthony LOVE Mom

We feel this is a weeding process.

Bullet holes in mailboxes, street signs & trees

& yes, judge, in people.

RIP McCandy & Dwight 


The State of Florida versus

the killers of Sherdavia Jenkins.


Judge! It was the middle of the day.

What if she was your baby?

They killed my baby, Judge!



They treated us like weeds. I-95

barreled through Overtown & obliterated it.

An atomic bomb might as well have been dropped.

That surely would have killed us faster. Cleaner.

Now the kids can’t ride their bikes or play

b-ball on the old black top, nor can they chaseRIP Rickia

the finest ice cream truck in Liberty City.

The cat who owns that joint now drives his wheels

to a safer, whiter place.


Judge, my baby was nine years old.

She was a quiet, well-mannered child.

She never hurt anyone.


When word of that interstate came down, we knew

big trouble would come with the wind to replace our peace.RIP DERRICK

Folks flooded Liberty Square from every direction.

The older cats from Overtown half-joked

that the whites who sped above us on the new overpass

never glanced down at us ants scurrying around.


Judge. My baby didn’t deserve to die like that.

Did I tell you she scored the highest marks

on her third-grade math?


The neighborhood went down and down. The pigs

always prowled. Things went bad the night

they used nightsticks & Kel-Lite flashlights to beat

Arthur MacDuffie down. They cracked his skull

like an Easter egg. His entire face was blood.

A Black man can’t ride a motorcycle in town?

That night the young cats hit the streets & screamed

I hate the fucking po-lice! Power to the…




Six months later an all-white jury


They killed my baby!


found the officers not guilty. Those Black catsRIP JAHNYA

turned this city out. They torched Doc Yaeger’s

with Molotov cocktails. They said his stethoscope

melted down.


Are you listening, judge?!?


Black smoke from burning buildings choked the sky.

I stood there scanning the street. Those flames glittered

on my skin. I felt like Prometheus. On 62nd street,

the bondsman’s shop lay charred like a dying star.RIP MARLON


Judge, I can’t find peace.

My children cry all night.

Miss Lion meows & paces

around our house.



The state alleged the petitioners,

Mr. LaRose & Mr. Darling,

engaged in a shootout

& accidentally killed a bystander.


Judge, my baby was not a bystander.

She was a child minding her own business!