Andre Montgomery: His death, his grandmother’s touching tribute, and the violence that killed him

Andre Montgomery was shot and killed outside of of a friend’s home in St. Louis this past March. He’d been inside, recording a rap song when his phone rang and someone told him to come outside, where he was shot. He was 21.

His grandmother, Ms. Robbie, star of Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s and owner of St. Louis soul food restaurant, Sweetie Pie’s, released this video to honor him.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I cannot watch this video without crying.

I’ve never seen a single episode of Welcome to Sweetie Pies. I had no idea who Andre was before this video.When I heard, he’d been killed, I felt sad and sorry for Ms. Robbie, sure, but no more sad and sorry than I would have felt in the event of any other stranger’s death.

And, that, I think is one of the most tragic elements of Andre’s death. We automatically reduce him to a statistic. We may not mean to;  it’s a gut reaction. We are numb to deaths of strangers, and especially numb to the deaths of young, black people. Their murders, both by law enforcement and by one another, have been so frequent, we lose track of them. We mix up names, towns, contexts. We bury the victims in politics. We use them as reasons to scream at those blinded by ignorance or the past. Worst of all, we forget these people were people. We forget they had a life before them. As Ms. Robbie says, “Andre wasn’t just a murder victim or a victim of gun violence or a young black man who lost his life too soon. He was my grandson. And there were so many things I loved about him, and still do.”

I talked briefly in the last post about violent crime in St. Louis, MO and before I end, I’d like to clarify a few things. St. Louis is continually listed as one of the top four most dangerous places to live every year. Explore St. Louis recently released a video explaining why those statistics are misleading.

However, there are still violent crime problems unique to St. Louis because of Missouri’s extremely lax gun laws. Guns are easier to get than drivers license. Any argument, disagreement, or confrontation can quickly become a shootout. Many may rush to point out that guns don’t kill people; people kill people, which is true, but when guns are accessible to the point where ownership is untraceable, shootings become much harder to prevent and, in the event of murders, suspects become harder to find.

The video also mentions “small pockets of crime” that the police monitor, but the aldermen have yet to do anything to develop those areas into inhabitable neighborhoods. Evidently, this is still a task for nonprofits such as Beloved Streets of America,  Better Family Life, and The Sweet Potato Project, but it requires a community effort, so I ask everyone to please help end the cycle of violence

Gun laws and undernourished communities were not the only factors in Andre Montgomery’s death, but they were some of them. All of us at Beloved Streets of America send our condolences  to Miss Robbie and the Montgomery family.

Rest In Peace, Andre Montgomery.

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