REASONS FOR ACTS THAT DEFY REASON
Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH) - December 4, 1995
Author: DICK FEAGLER
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Avery Holland will stand trial as an adult in the fatal stabbing of
Vincent Drost in Lakewood last summer.
birth certificate says he's 17. That number is meaningless. The charges
against him suggest the chaos of his life has made him primeval. Older
than civilization. As ancient as suffering and cruelty.
county took him out of an abusive home. They did it for his own
protection. He passed through a series of foster homes. There is some
evidence that he was deliberately scalded when he was very young. Hot
liquid poured on a child will speed the aging process.
the county adopted Avery Holland, what do you suppose it did with him?
It enrolled him in something called a "re-entry program," as if he were
coming back to Earth from outer space. When you think of it, that may
be an apt analogy. But the re-entry program didn't quite live up to its
tidy name. They stuck Avery Holland in a YMCA over on W. 25th St.
Police say that when he re-entered society, he came with a knife.
Avery Holland became friends with a 17-year-old boy named Anthony
Wilson. According to testimony in Juvenile Court from a companion of
Holland and Wilson, Anthony Wilson was beating Vincent Drost with a
stick while Avery Holland was stabbing him. When Drost collapsed, they
took a dollar from his pocket.
Anthony Wilson lived in
Lakewood and was a student at Lakewood High School. That is, however, a
rather generous use of the word "student." The last year he attended
Lakewood High, Anthony Wilson was absent 78 days. That's more than 15
school weeks. And it doesn't count frequent tardiness.
police arrested Holland and Wilson and two other juveniles shortly
after Drost was slaughtered. The cops asked them why they had attacked
Drost. The answer they gave was incomprehensible to the police. They
spoke of creeping on a come-up.
"Creep On A Come-up" is the
name of a song on a rap record. Lakewood police Capt. Al Clark got a
copy of the record and played it. This unpleasantly expanded his
"To creep on a come-up," he told me, "is to
approach a victim and ask him something innocent, like directions, or
like change for a dollar. Then, when he's off guard and reaching into
his pocket for change, the `come-up' is, you hit him.' And Clark made a
sudden uppercut motion with his fist.
A week before Vincent
Drost was slain, a pedestrian told police he had been assaulted by four
youths at the corner of Nicholson and Detroit avenues in Lakewood. The
"creep on a come-up" method was used. After the Drost killing, the
assault victim picked Avery Holland's picture from a batch of photos
and identified him as the assailant.
Lakewood residents had
not recovered from the trauma of the Drost slaying when they picked up
this newspaper last week and were greeted by this headline:
"Man is shot in Lakewood during stroll."
story revealed that Cleveland firefighter James Sliter and his wife
were walking to a supermarket on Bunts Rd. about 8 p.m. when three
teens stopped them to ask directions. Mrs. Sliter kept walking while
her husband paused. One of the youths shot him in the neck. A witness
told police that the youths ran away from the broken robbery attempt
laughing and giving each other high-fives "as if they had just scored a
touchdown." Sliter is recovering from his wounds. The city of Lakewood
Vincent Drost was an artist. A soft-spoken, gentle
man. He was engaged to be married when he was killed. A lot of the
community's self-confidence died with him. Nervousness rippled through
the neighborhoods, and there was muttering about low-rent housing and
racial distrust. The youths charged in the Drost slaying were
African-Americans. The youths who shot Sliter were not.
after the Drost slaying that I would write more about him. But that is
a difficult task, and I'm not sure how to do it. So far, this is a
story about innocent victims, random violence, a possibly abused child,
lax supervision, a crowded court system, meaningless schooling, rap
music, lack of a conscience and a town affected with spreading,
low-grade apprehension. It is a story of the America that scares us on
the 11 o'clock news.
But what does it all add up to? Where, in
these random facts, is a key to a workable solution that goes beyond
platitudes? That, like the future of Lakewood, is an open question.
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