My Thoughts After Kamille McKinney

by Just Juan

“God looks out for fools and babies” – Me’Shell Ndegéocello

Concerning the epigraph, I’ve also heard that line for a legion of elderly people and from one of my favorite recording artists in a song. The Holy Bible doesn’t actually have anything that refers to this specifically but it’s no secret God looks out for all of us…including the fools and babies. I think it’s more appropriate to say that “society looks out for fools and babies” because time and time again, the people of the world have shown much more concern for those deemed mentally incapacitated and for the youngest amongst us…at lengths far greater than for people my age. Back home in Birmingham, Kamille McKinney—affectionally known as Cupcake—was abducted from a birthday party 2 ½ weeks ago and found dead in a dumpster. The lengths to which the local authorities—and even the Governor—went for that little girl was both incredible and off-putting at the same time.

Now, don’t get me wrong. As a father, I would absolutely hate to be in the position of Kamille’s parents. These days, people’s kids are definitely targeted for abduction and even worst fates so keeping Ashton on a tight leash is the play for Mercedes and I as long as he’s too young to really know better. I, just like everybody in Birmingham and across the nation, hoped that Kamille would be returned safely to her parents. And just like everybody, I was heartbroken by the news of her death. I definitely commend the Birmingham Police and all of the other supporting law enforcement agencies and the local community in helping to find her, if not just for closure purposes.

But while I absolutely give the Birmingham Police kudos for solving this case so swiftly—they had the suspects in custody in just a couple of days—I can’t help but feel snubbed at a lot of the other cases that have gone unsolved. Birmingham is one of the most dangerous cities in the country. I see the articles about somebody getting killed every 2-3 days. I see social media posts about major crimes being committed every day. And a lot of this goes unresolved. I’m willing to bet there is a backlog of unsolved murders in Birmingham with at least 100 people on it since the early 90s. I know 2 names on the list for sure and I wish Birmingham Police would’ve scoured the heavens and earth as they did for Kamille McKinney…to find their killers, at least.

Back in September 2005, my cousin Chris Hamby was found in a College Hills alley by Birmingham Street & Sanitation. I remember my mother calling and asking if he had contacted me because no one had heard from him for a couple of days. Then, a couple of days later, she called me to tell me that he had been found dead. I was incredibly saddened because he and I were close. Him being a mechanic, he helped me with The Deuce and we had a lot of great dialogue…especially after I left for Ohio State and the Air Force. 2 years later, my former neighbor, Edmund Frison, was found dead in a car in the Inglenook neighborhood. He and another person in the car had been shot several times and just left there to perish. The news reports said they were killed the night before. Neither murder has ever been solved and that’s the frustrating part for me.

Birmingham Police—and by extension, the City of Birmingham and the residents of Birmingham—went all out for Kamille McKinney. The number of investigators and the number of resources used in the effort were incredible. With as many people and as many tools at that disposal, it would’ve been disappointing if a week passed by without them either finding her or finding the culprits. I just wish that the police, the City, and the Birminghamians would’ve had that same energy when it came to Chris and Edmund. Their murders will never be solved. My family will never know who killed Chris and Edmund’s mother will never know who took her son away from her. I think we, as people, have to humanize everybody. The lives and the fates of Chris and Edmund mattered just as much as Kamille’s life and fate—and of Aniah Blanchard, who just recently went missing and feared to be in grave trouble down in Auburn, Alabama—mattered. Society shouldn’t treat them differently because they are able adults and not “fools and babies”.

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