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The Life and Murder of Aaron Sullivan- KBCS Interview

August 30, 2010

This week on KBCS’s One World Report, you’ll hear my gripping and intimately personal interview with Dr. Debra Sullivan, mother of the late Aaron Sullivan.

Aaron was murdered while sitting in his car, July 22nd 2009 in Seattle’s Leschi/Mt. Baker area.

I first interviewed Dr. Sullivan months after the shooting.  I was struck at how open she was with the details of losing her son in such a horrific way.  In the process of writing that story, I interviewed Aaron’s sister and the 2 people sitting in the car with him when he was shot- his girlfriend, who was next to him, and his best friend who sat directly behind him.

It was that experience that solidified for me, the power of audio.  It was the first time I posted actual recordings of interviews instead of transcripts.  I wanted you to hear what I heard, and I knew it couldn’t be conveyed any other way.

With that in mind, it was somewhat of a full circle moment sitting with Debra in the KBCS studios, preparing to bring this story to your ears.  Debra offers us all a very special gift- she gives us insight into what it is like to lose a child to gun violence, and not just the mourning, but the logistics as well.  What is it like to be notified your child is dead?  What is it like to see misinformation about your loved one in the newspaper, and read the hateful comments online? What is it like to intersect with detectives, the prosecutor’s office, the victim’s family, your own family, and so on.  Debra takes us through that experience and her story is one we can all learn from.  It encapsulates “you think you know, but you have no idea.”

Each of my KBCS interviews have been with or focused on Black men. It wasn’t my intention, but as I look for the important stories to tell, those are the ones that present themselves to me.  It is an honor to bring them to you.  Black men are often misunderstood or misrepresented in the media- we all know the stereotypes.  But that isn’t who they really are.  Black men- their opinions, lives an experiences- are diverse and unique. These segments- I hope- help us better understand our brothas, ourselves, and yes, even the world around us.  The topics vary, but with each interview you’re guaranteed one thing; we go deep.

If you’ve missed any of these interviews, here they are for your convenience:


Interview with Garlin Gilchrist II about the right to a free and open Internet
When Garlin Gilchrist II was just 5 years old, his grandmother bought him his first computer. By 13 he had his first job building computers from scratch, a seemingly unlikely hobby for a young Black kid growing up in Detroit. By the time he graduated college as a computer engineer, Garlin had a job waiting for him with one of the most sought after employers in the country: Microsoft. His career in life was set- and then- he quit. Today Garlin Gilchrist II is the Director of New Media for the Center For Community Changein D.C. In this next section, our own Sable Verity talks with Gilchrest about his journey from the for-profit technology sector in this Washington to the non-profit community sector in the other Washington. He also talks about why a free and open Internet matters to all people, and especially marginalized communities.
Garlin Gilchrist II’s blog The SuperSpade
Center for Community Change

Interviewer: Sable Verity
Download broadcast interview (right-click, save target as)

A brutally-beaten Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes.

Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes in his own words
In April of 2005 three Seattle Police Department officers arrested 29-year old Seattle artist and educator Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes outside a Capitol Hill club on Pike Street. Witnesses say at least 4 officers forced a compliant Alley-Barnes to the ground and repeatedly kicked and punched him until he was bloodied and swollen. A camera in a police cruiser captured audio, but not video, of the arrest. In it, you can clearly hear Alley-Barnes pleading with officers to -quote- please stop kicking me.

An internal investigation later showed that an officer also rammed the handcuffed Alley-Barnes’ face into a wall at the police precinct. Now five years later, Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes has created an exhibit titled “To Serve and Protect.” It’s a multimedia, collaborative effort to tap into the healing power of art; to exorcise the demons, and tell the stories of those left behind in the aftermath of police brutality. Reporter and commentator Sable Verity talked with Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes about what happened to him that fateful night and the healing power of art.
Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes’ latest exhibit is titled “To Serve and Protect.” It features the work by Alley-Barnes, his friends and family. Theexhibit opened last Friday at Punctuation Gallery in Capital Hill.
To hear the dash-cam audio of Alley Barnes’ arrest, go to the Seattle Times page at Sounds of violence: The arrest of Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes.

Reporter: Sable Verity
Download edited 20 minute interview (right-click, save target as)

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Left: 13-year-old Barry Massey. Right: Still incarcerated Barry Massey today with his wife Rhonda.

Interview with Rhonda Massey, wife of the youngest person in the state convicted as an adult for first degree murder
Regular listeners of the Sable Verity Commentary may be familiar with the case of Barry Massey. He was the youngest person in our country’s history to be tried as an adult for first degree murder. He was found guilty in 1987, and began serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole.

Since then Massey has received his GED, started a youth intervention program, taught fitness classes for his peers and continues to educate himself any way he can. A growing team of supporters are pushing for Massey’s clemency from Governor Chris Gregoire. One of those supporters is Massey’s wife Rhonda who he married in 2009. We bring you an interview with Rhonda Massey recorded earlier at the KBCS Jonathan Henderson Studio.

We also have the hour-long, unedited version of that interview where you can hear Barrey Massey’s tape recorded interrogation when he was 13 years old and learn more about the campaign for his clemency.
To hear 13-year-old Barry Massey’s interrogation:
Sable Verity’s previous commentaries about Barry Massey
Sable Verity’s articles about Massey’s Campaign for freedom:

Reporter: Sable Verity
Download interview (17-minute edited version) (right-click, save target as)

The uncut versions of all interviews are available here.

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