Grief has no deadline, an LA writer learns

watts-towers-sign.jpg
A sign in the park at the Watts Towers. LA Observed file photo

Jocelyn Y. Stewart used to cover hard news for the Los Angeles Times, an assignment that often took her into the South LA neighborhood where she grew up to cover homicides and other crimes. "To be a reporter in a city like Los Angeles is to understand the redundancy of crime," she writes at Narratively. "Bullets strike—and then strike again. A young life ends—and then another. Grieving parents wonder how to survive the aftermath, when birthdays and Christmas mornings arrive and their child is gone."

The hook for this story is personal: after covering the damage done to families by LA street violence, she got one of those late-night calls she knew never brings good news. She grew up in Watts on the same street as Kendrick LaJuan Blackmon. She considered him her nephew. Now he was a victim. The crime is still unsolved.

Sample of her piece:

This time the tearful relatives standing before the cameras and the reporters were mine. The victim wasn’t somebody else’s child. He belonged to us....


At scenes like this, for so long my place had always been among the reporters, asking the questions, gathering facts and taking down quotes before rushing off to make deadline. Now I stood on the other side of the podium watching the journalists scribble notes as we pleaded for the killer to come forward.

This time there would be no moving on to the next story. I wouldn’t write about this for the next day’s paper. I would live it for years to come, because grief has no deadline.



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