polo knit hat Why do friends Roof stayed with before Charleston shootings shrug about their inaction
“Who’s here?” Jacob says, jumping up and peeking through the blinds, but the view is the same as ever _ no people, an abandoned trailer next door, a skinny pine tree and empty vodka minis in a patch of weedy grass. Beyond is the whoosh of highway traffic and the rest of Lexington County, a place that is roughly 80 percent white, the result of decades of white flight from neighboring counties and Ku Klux Klan activity, including a drive by shooting of three black teenagers in 1996 _ not that any sense of history filters into the trailer. “The KKK, that’s one thing I don’t understand,” as Joey says. “Was the KKK an actual violent thing?”
Roof had lived on an adjacent street, and Shane lived nearby. Shane boxed with Justin, taught Jacob survival skills and was closest in age and friendship to Joey. When he was a teenager, Shane made YouTube videos with titles such as “Shane on Ambien,” in which he stumbles through a disheveled house while several younger kids laugh at him, push him around and swat him with a drumstick. Shane often stayed with the Meeks, who liked having him around. “Hi, Mom,” he would say to Kim when he came through the door, making her laugh.
He would stay for weeks at the house in Ridgewood, and when Kim lost the house to foreclosure, he would stay at the trailer, even though he had his own trailer by then. He was around when Roof arrived in May,
but the two didn’t interact very much. Mostly, Shane drank and played video games. He was 21 at that point and saying troubling things that none of the Meeks took seriously. One day it was about his sorrow over not seeing his newborn son, who was living with his estranged girlfriend in another state. One day it had to do with being evicted. One night he messaged Justin saying that he was going to drink a bottle of bug poison, and Justin didn’t believe him and went back to playing Xbox.
This was at the house in Ridgewood. It was vinyl sided with two stories and a decent yard. And though Joey had started climbing out of his bedroom window at night, Sean was trying to keep him in line. The boys had friends Kim liked, including the quiet one with a blond bowl cut, and the funny one with dark, curly hair. The family went to church, Kim got her degree as a medical technician and a job in her field, and this was how life was going, she says, until the Friday she came home from Aaron’s rent to own furniture store _ “He said he wanted an L shaped couch,” she says. “He said he wanted an ottoman” _ and Sean said he was leaving her.
She lost 10 pounds, then 20 and went to a doctor who diagnosed her with anxiety and depression. She got the job at Waffle House. She got on food stamps. She started spending hours shut in her bedroom, posting self help mantras on Facebook, and it was somewhere between “God can restore what is broken” and “Pray to have eyes to see the best in people” that the blond kid became an alleged mass murderer, and the curly headed one killed himself, and Kim became someone who tries hard not to think about much beyond the next cigarette, which she finishes now as she keeps scrolling in the last minutes of her break.
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