From 2-1 to Zero
On the night he died, Henry Moormann bumped into his mom at the end of her work day.
"Do you want to have dinner?" she asked.
"I've got to run out to the Mall of America," he replied. "We'll grab a bite around 9."
He slouched out to his '88 Ciera wearing the bruiser face he'd perfected, the one he wore everywhere but in front of his mother.
He cruised past elegant houses with arched windows and stone walks, the gracious lakeside homes of southwest Minneapolis, out to the mall where he bought a sweatshirt. He went to a phone and called some friends. He said he was worried. He had a bad feeling about this buy.
Evening found him with a half pound of marijuana in the trunk and the butt of his .380 semiautomatic hard against his stomach, heading through the low-slung houses of Richfield to meet his pick-up at Augsburg Park.
It was January 8, 1998, and Moormann, who would have turned 19 in June, was on his way to make his last sale. He was a small-time dealer who moved magic mushrooms and grass, selling mostly to his high-school buddies, other white kids who lived in his own affluent neighborhood. There was usually a group of them loafing in the garage behind the house where he lived with his mother, real-estate agent Nancy Moormann.
On the night he died, he was edgy. These were kids he knew, kids he'd sold to off and on. But he couldn't figure where they got the money to buy half a pound. He got to the park first and had to wait. What he saw when they finally showed was even worse. He counted five bodies jammed into the minivan, and he started to back away.
Two of the teenagers jumped out into the dark and waved sawed-off shotguns at Moormann, demanding his drugs. Moormann slammed his trunk shut, and reached too late into his waistband for his pistol.
The first blast hit him in his left arm, and as he
stumbled forward, the second caught him on the right arm. The shot that killed him was fired into his back as he lay face down on the concrete.
By this time, Nancy Moormann had given up on dinner with her son. She was used to Henry's comings and goings at odd hours. "He's off on a toot," she thought to herself, and ate a solitary sandwich watching E.R. She went to bed at 10:30 or 11, while investigators from the Richfield PD were chalking the shotgun shells on the asphalt.
"About 3 o'clock," she recalls, "the dog woke up and had to go out. I saw a car drive up. I saw two cars drive up. And I knew there was something wrong."
Richfield sees only one or two murders a year, and its police department is small. There's no full-time homicide unit, just a team of investigators drawn from across the force. For Richfield the point-blank shooting of Heinz "Henry" Moormann was unprecedented. A force of six cops started work that night hoping for fresh clues. Over the next three days, up to 20 officers from across the metro area worked the case around the clock.
Lt. Glenn Mork oversaw the investigation. A young cop with a serious face and a trim build, he quickly amassed a good 7 inches of paper on the case. "We had some really good breaks early on that paid off," he says, patting the fruits of his investigation, bound in a black, three-ring binder. "We pretty much had the case wrapped up in the first three days."
The first warrants went out on Brandon Connor, 19, and his girlfriend, Lt. Mork says. The criminal complaint against Connor and four other teens describes the police's version of events: One of them, Sean Ueland, told police he was just along for the ride. He knew Moormann, he added. At the park, Ueland said, Justin Stiles, 19, and Charlie Seepersaud, 18, jumped out of the minivan with shotguns and ordered Moormann to "give us your shit."
Mork's investigators brought in Seepersaud. At first, he denied everything that Mork said. But finally in a taped interview Seepersaud cracked and admitted he was at the shooting. He and his friends set Moormann up, luring him out to the park to rob him. According to the criminal complaint, Seepersaud said he was holding a 20-gauge sawed-off shotgun when they jumped out of the van. Seepersaud's story echoed Ueland's. Moormann reached for his gun, Ueland and Seepersaud both told police, and Stiles fired his 12-gauge. Seepersaud said the gun he was holding just went off.
The fifth teen in the van that night, Justin Valeen, 17, later told police that after the shooting Stiles got back in the van and ordered him to get rid of the guns. Valeen showed police where he hid them, a couple blocks from Stiles's house. When police searched Stiles's house, they found the other half of a sawed-off shotgun barrel.
Prosecutors handed this evidence to a grand jury and in February, Stiles, Seepersaud, Valeen, and Connor were indicted on charges of first-degree murder. Their trials are pending. No charges have been brought against Ueland.
The story of Henry Moormann's death seems like a textbook gang jack--except that in this case none of the alleged players comes from the kind of neighborhood or background that people usually associate with gang-related violence. "When you hear 'gang member' you think of Minneapolis and St. Paul," says Mork. "You don't think of Richfield or Bloomington. But Burnsville has gang problems. Eden Prairie has gang members running around. We all do."
He sees Moormann's death as a result of the risks he took in life. Playing on the edge of a gang can kill you. "He was associated with the 2-1 Click," Mork says. "He knew the risks.... Very simply, 2-1 Click is a gang. They are into property crimes. They're into assaults. And they are into narcotics activity. Some might be wannabes, but they are no longer wannabes when they are considered part of the 2-1 Click. They are what they are--a gang member. They have arrived."
Depending on whom you talk to, Moormann's murder was either the latest or the last chapter in the rise and fall of the 2-1 Click, the loose-knit band of teenagers who had the upscale neighborhoods around 50th and France in an uproar all last summer. The adults who live here often have trouble seeing their own kids as "at-risk youth," much less as the gang they were branded by Mork and the Minneapolis police officers who eventually descended on the neighborhood in full force.
The intersection of 50th and France forms the boundaries of two cities: to the southwest there's Edina, one of the Twin Cities' wealthiest first-ring suburbs; to the north lies Minneapolis's old-wealth lakes district. Blue-collar Richfield stretches nearby to the east. Curving parkways, some of the city's only hills, and the lakes themselves make these neighborhoods hot real estate. Homes in the area run into the hundreds of thousands. Steve Minn, the only non-Democrat on the Minneapolis City Council, represents many of these neighborhoods. Fewer than 2 percent are poor by federal standards; more than 95 percent are white.
Bustling little commercial districts of coffee shops, service centers such as Bone Adventure pet grooming, and the nearby day spa for humans dot the neighborhood. Purveyors of notions fill out the shopping areas, along with concept boutiques like Presents of Angels, where shoppers with disposable income can purchase celestial accessories. Just to the east of France on 50th Street are the twin requirements for a teen hangout: a Dairy Queen and a Holiday store.
The doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professionals who buy into the neighborhoods here are "lovely, educated, liberal, nouveau folks," says Leslie Brancheau, who numbers herself among them. Brancheau, a marriage and family therapist in private practice, moved to Minneapolis's Linden Hills area from a big house in Kenwood after her own marriage fell apart. In her new corner of southwest Minneapolis, she found a kind of Little Rascals paradise where neighbors were friends, kids along the block were playmates, and everyone met up at the park for Little League. It was like living in a small town community, she says. "We all huddle like this. And when our kids are little, everything is fine."
When she moved to the neighborhood, Brancheau started her kids in hockey and baseball. But her upwardly mobile neighbors seemed to approach the competitions with a feverish drive. "My kids have been involved in hockey and baseball since they were 5, and it even starts back there," she says. "You'll always find some parents. It's crazy. They'll even form their own teams so their kids can play, coaches just hanging in there so their kid can play every year," she says. "For a lot of parents--dads more so than moms--it's got to do with, 'This reflects on me.'"
The pressure only intensifies when kids reach school age. For a while Brancheau's oldest son, Greg (not his real name), kept cool under pressure. When he was 14 he helped the team win a championship. But then he got into trouble. After that, he was ostracized. "He hardly played that whole season," Brancheau remembers. "The summer before he played a lot."
Brancheau got the silent treatment from some of the parents, too. "They just kind of don't talk to you as much at the sporting events," she says. "Among themselves they might say, 'Oh, she just wasn't strict enough,' or something like that. Or even though 50 percent of families are single-parent, people want to shove it off on that issue. They might say that to one or two of their friends, but not to me. It's very quiet. Very subtle. Not all of them, but some parents, they just kind of ignore you and walk away. Kind of like there's leprosy around."
When Greg's baseball team was in the playoffs that year, he missed a ball. The coach pulled him out of the game for the error. Then he told the child, "We don't want your kind around here."
If parents sow the seeds of division on the baseball fields and the hockey rinks, then by the time their kids are in high school, the divisions are in full bloom. Jocks are at the top of the social ladder at the neighborhood high school, Southwest, just as they were in Little League. Nonathletes can go into the rigorously academic International Baccalaureate program.
"If you don't have your kid starting in sports at a very young age, then when they get to high school, if they want to play sports, unless they're a very gifted natural athlete they can just give it up," explains Brancheau. "They don't stand a chance. Not a chance." The parents of successful kids hold them up as stars. Worse, so do the parents of children who don't succeed. Raising athletes becomes a competitive sport in its own right. The kids are the trophies.
The grown-ups don't like to talk about it, but Southwest has its share of urban high-school problems. In a district poll conducted last year, 82 percent--nearly twice the district average--of the teachers at Southwest said students' use of drugs and alcohol is a problem. Just 4 percent of Southwest's students--less than half the district average--were suspended for threatening the safety of other kids. Yet a fifth of the students polled said they don't feel safe in school.
Others simply hate it. "Southwest is a bunch of egotistical kids running around thinking they're somebody," says Nate Moy, one of Moormann's friends who says he never belonged to 2-1. Soft-spoken Moy sports a goatee and wears his pants several sizes too large, hip-hop style--definitely not the craze at Southwest. "It's a big sports scene," he says. "It's a 90210 fashion-statement thing."
And the students who aren't accepted by the jocks or the brains form their own cliques. "It was Mexicans hang out with Mexicans, blacks hang out with blacks," says another friend of Moormann's, Brad Delude, who managed to graduate from Southwest last year despite having been thrown out for lousy attendance. "You had the sports players hanging out together, cheerleaders hanging out together. And then you could kind of say there was our group of teenagers hanging out."
Delude's group--and Henry Moormann's group--became known as the 2-1 Click. It began as protective coloration for the kids who didn't fit into Southwest's strata. "Basically if you're nothing," Moy says, "you're not a dork, you might get OK grades, you might not play a sport, you might not go to all the parties, you might smoke weed, then you're going to be looking for someone, somebody, some kind of group to give you security for who you are or who you think you are." The boys in the 2-1 Click found security in a kind of gangster chic, a uniform of rebellion consisting of baggy pants, matching baseball caps and jerseys, pidgin Ebonics, and an exaggerated swagger. "Nobody wanted to be preppy," Delude says, "but nobody wanted to be all-out ruthless and screw up in school totally."
At first the 2-1 crowd found some middle ground. They would hang out, play basketball, listen to rap, and talk trash. The name 2-1 Click, according to various accounts, came from one or another gangster movie, Colors or Blood In, Blood Out, or as Delude tells it, "Basically you could say we were acting like we were Mexicans, and we figured, 'Hey, that would make a good name.'"
Moy chalks up his friends' obsessions with "the gangbanger thing" to fashion. "You can look anywhere and find teenagers, white, black, Asian, Hispanic, whatever, trying to be a gangbanger. Basically I just break it down like it's the hip-hop era, that's what it is. It's a vibe feeling. It's like break-dancers a long time ago." No matter how privileged the average Southwest teenager, the white kids at the bottom of this heap of white kids take a measure of power and pride imitating the least powerful members of society. Look, ma, I'm black.
Henry Moormann's progress through Southwest as recorded in the high-school yearbook bears this out. Year after year, he appears in none of the pages and pages of pictures of athletes, nowhere in the Spirit Week photos, not even in the drama club. The class photo of the scrawny and bespectacled kid changes little over the years, until his senior year. "I wanna give shot-outs to the 2-1 klick and all the homies that rprsnt-stay up," reads the message under that picture. "Mad shot-outs to the Hip-Hop nation, all session soldiers, Pershing dwellers, hood-hustlers and Party-thrwers. Much love. I wanna acknowledge all the lovely females that surrounded me..." A camera flash glances off of a gold chain around his neck.
Another key ingredient as it turns out is marijuana. Delude says he's not a dope-smoker. Moy says he used to be but gave it up. Both of them agree that weed is an everyday teenage accessory, and not just for 2-1 kids. "It's really not hard to get. You could get it in five, 10 minutes," says Delude. Until January, Henry Moormann would have been a logical person to start with.
The 2-1 began as an offshoot of the party scene. "The 2-1 people in my age group," Delude says, "are just kids that are out having fun partying, not trying to rob people or hurt people or steal from people, just looking around to try to have fun. There are so many of us that we can't go to this person's house to hang out, and we can't go to this place to hang out." And so the hangout became Pershing Park, a Minneapolis park with hoops and a playground strategically located between Holiday and Southwest High.
Last summer when it started getting warm, the parties--and the misdeeds of the drunk and stoned teenagers at them--began to draw notice. In June, a fight broke out on 50th and Penn, a high-school brawl with Southwest teens on one side and students from nearby Washburn High on the other. The Southwest Journal, a community newspaper based in the area, reported that a juvenile associated with the 2-1 Click was arrested and charged with breaking another kid's jaw with a baseball bat.
A community meeting shortly after the incident produced a barrage of complaints against the Click: Home and business owners in the area complained of 2-1 graffiti on their property. Kids were breaking into garages and cars. Pissing in neighbors' yards. The kids were confrontational and abusive, and had threatened a woman at knifepoint, area residents complained.
The kids and some of their parents countered that the police were harassing area teens, sometimes at gunpoint. Minneapolis police had launched a "zero-tolerance" onslaught designed to drive the 2-1 out of business. They stopped teenagers in their cars on any pretext they could think of. They maintained a constant presence in Pershing Park.
Most upsetting to parents, the MPD classified the 2-1 Click as a criminal gang. Minnesota law defines gangs loosely, and attaches additional penalties to crimes committed for the benefit of a gang. "The things that define it as a gang are identifiable clothing, and gang signs or graffiti, in addition to one or more members engaged in criminal activity," explains Inspector Brad Johnson of the MPD's fifth precinct, which includes Pershing Park.
Parents and area residents were incensed. "Now it wasn't just juveniles causing some problems around the neighborhood," says Paul Hokeness, a neighborhood resident involved in the controversy. "Once it's labeled as a gang, that puts it in a whole different world. I've worked in inner cities before and I've seen real gangs, and I'm not being naive... but I didn't truly see this as a real gang."
It was this semantic debate that captured headlines last fall: Is 2-1 a gang or not? Police sent a letter to parents of kids associated with 2-1 warning of drive-by shootings and firebombs. Sue Donahue, a resident who became a kind of ad hoc media spokeswoman for the 2-1 teens and their parents, told the Southwest Journal that "we have more of a problem with the police and their power running amok than we do with a gang of kids."
The kids themselves complained that they felt oppressed. "The more disrespect the police gave them, the more violent they got toward the adults, no matter who they were," says Moy. "If you live in the neighborhood you're going to be disrespected because somebody else disrespected them. It's a cycle."
Minneapolis City Council member Steve Minn, campaigning for re-election, accused parents of being "in denial," an accusation echoed by Johnson. "A lot of people said, 'It's just a group of kids,'" the inspector says. "Yes, that's true. But based on the state definition they are a gang. People didn't want that. People don't want gangs and people don't want to believe that there are gangs."
Eventually a handful of parents, police, and teens, including Donahue, Hokeness, and Johnson, hit on some practical solutions. Parents met with Johnson to clear the air. Hokeness organized a band of teens to clean up the graffiti around the neighborhood. Some of the older teens in the crowd went on to jobs or GEDs. Others moved away.
Brancheau sent her son out of the state to a sort of wilderness therapy group. "I could sense he wanted to get out of it but didn't know how to get away from his peer group," she says. "The athletes don't want to be around you because people might think they're using drugs, and they don't want to get kicked off the team. And then [Greg] was skipping school a whole lot, and his grades looked like heck, so he feels 'yuck' about that. So you become more and more encamped. Any kid does. So I found a way to get him out of here."
Winter brought its own calm to Pershing Park. And for a while it was quiet in southwest. It seemed like 2-1 was a thing of the past.
Then Henry Moormann turned up dead in a parking lot.
"Henry's in there in a box," Nancy Moormann jerks her head at the wall dividing her kitchen from the spare bedroom. "I brought him home, and I was moving him around and I didn't know what to do with him. 'What am I going to do with you Henry? You're under foot again!'"
Nancy Moormann wants eventually to scatter her son's ashes at Leech Lake at the resort where she and Henry and her daughter spent idyllic summer retreats. "His happiest times were when he was let loose up there," she remembers. "He loved the lack of structure. He adored it. He could come and go. He never had to check in with anybody." She shakes her head. "I'm sure he was smoking lots of marijuana there too."
For the neighborhood, which tends toward grandeur, the Moormanns' little green house is somewhat small. It's a modest single story on a Tangletown street, quieter still now that Henry is dead and his band of friends doesn't come around anymore.
Inside, Nancy Moormann has decorated it tastefully with antiques and framed sketches of birds and animals. She points out a small, dark painting in a black frame, a landscape executed in acrylics by Henry when he was 9. The painting shows a black barn and silo against a dark sky. A thin, fiery sunset spans the horizon. In the days since Henry was shot and killed, this painting has for Nancy Moormann become emblematic of his life.
"He was so proud of it," she recalls. "We got it framed, and he gave it to his dad for Christmas. He took it to the office and hung it there and was very proud of it." But in 1993, she divorced Henry's father, and he moved out of the state. "When his dad packed up to leave home, he left the picture here. I put it away. I figured Henry didn't need the rejection."
As Nancy Moormann tells it, her husband walked out and never looked back. Not that the family was hardy when intact. "It was terrible," she says. "We argued all the time.... He said, 'If you throw me out I'm not going to have anything to do with you.' I said, 'That's fine with me. I don't count on you for anything anymore.' And that's literally what I got. I didn't get anything from him."
Her ex has lived in Illinois now for years. Henry and his sister Renate recently tried unsuccessfully to reach him, their mother says.
Right after the divorce, Moormann moved her family to Minneapolis from Minnetonka. Henry was 14, a tough time to make that kind of move. But it was his sister Renate who seemed headed for trouble. She was tough-talking and rebellious, and she ran her mother ragged. "She was right in my face," says Moormann. "She was amazing. She would run with the most repulsive characters. She's told me about ducking under cars as bullets were flying. She's known every gang member that's been arrested or killed in Minneapolis. She and Henry were very, very close and I think he thought this was glamorous." Eventually, Moormann says, Renate pulled her act together and joined the Navy, but not until after some very difficult times at home.
While Renate was brash and brazen, Henry was smooth and congenial, a happy-go-lucky friend to his mother. "He was lovely. He and I connected on a level that his sister could not catch on to. His sister didn't get The Far Side--we would laugh like crazy. He could see things in nature and in the clouds that she couldn't see. So we had this bond. It was really nice. He was charming. He was funny. All his friends talk about missing his smile. He was smart. He was very clever. He was artistic. And he was screwed up."
In school, Henry was an occasionally brilliant student, the kind of kid who was easily bored but did well when something caught his interest. "Whenever he had a teacher that spotted that something, he always did well," Nancy says, "otherwise he kind of just screwed around." He was artistic. His room in the basement was filled with the candles he'd made. He kept a journal and wrote poems.
Nancy found one of his last poems, or the first line of one anyway, when she was dismantling his room the weekend after he died. On a sheet of loose-leaf he'd written, "When I was 16 years old, I began to open my eyes." Nancy keeps it in a drawer to remember him by. "It seems pretty sad that he didn't finish opening them," she says.
After the move to Minneapolis things went from bad to worse. Henry, who was already smoking pot, adopted the trappings of a gangbanger. "He was a skinny kid with glasses coming in from the suburbs," Nancy says. "He used to be scared of the Laotian kids, and the Hispanics and the blacks. 'Boy do I feel like a minority,' he would say." He was drawn to the 2-1 crowd because he'd been friends with most of them since kindergarten. They were bonded in a way Henry had never experienced before.
As a teenager in this new environment, his personality seemed split. At home he was still the charming, open, deferential child Nancy knew and loved. But when his friends came around, his manner would change. Nancy had a hard time reconciling the two Henrys. "They'd walk around walking their walk and talking their talk. I'd say, 'Gosh you're unattractive when you do that. You're such a handsome kid. What's this all about? I don't understand this tough front.'"
Worried about his marijuana use, she put him through a treatment program and dragged him into family counseling. "Henry could tell them exactly what they wanted to hear. He came out and everything was fine. He'd be off and running and doing whatever it was he wanted to do anyway."
If she pushed him too far for answers, he would snap at her. "I can't talk to you," he would say. "You were brought up in a different world. You don't understand the way I was brought up." But more often, his problems simply would not come up at home.
Outside of Nancy's house, Henry Moormann's gangster aspirations were escalating. He was spending more money than he made at his job stocking shelves at Cub Foods. He came home with new Polo clothes all the time and amassed an enormous number of shoes. "It did his ego an enormous amount of good to dress well," Nancy says.
He was also, according to the MPD's Johnson, one of a handful of 2-1 kids who the police continued to watch after last summer's controversy died down. After the days of zero tolerance, the MPD had taken a more hands-off approach to policing the 2-1 kids. They had broken up the gang with its graffiti, hand signs, and jerseys, but were--and still are--watching a number of troublemakers. "We know that there are people continuing in criminal ways," says Johnson. "They were committing the crimes before there was a gang, when there was a gang, and they're continuing to. We're aware of it, and we're after it." Johnson says the MPD is still tracking a number of underage drinkers and kids who cops believe are carrying guns or dealing drugs--including, Johnson alleges, kids who were "peripherally involved" in the deal that resulted in Moormann's death.
Before his death, Moormann was also a known quantity to Richfield's Lt. Mork. "Narcotics activity for Moormann appeared to be a way of making money," he says. "He was armed. He was in it for the risks. He was in it for what he knew it was--a dangerous activity."
But if Henry Moormann the drug dealer was on a collision course, he managed for a time to hide it from his mom. She says Henry was a master at keeping his two worlds separate. "Henry was not in my face. He could maintain this wonderful, civil approach to being my son and living in my house. He always said the right thing to me, and being a mom, I believed what I wanted to hear."
To some of his friends, however, he admitted that both the cheery disposition he showed Nancy Moormann and the tough-guy act he used on his homies were nothing more than fronts. "Honestly, deep down inside his heart," says his friend Moy, "I've heard him say this, that he was born and put on this planet to be a piece of shit, to be a nobody, to be punked by people who are better than him, to be disrespected. I don't think he cared about his life whatsoever, except for his mom and his sister."
Just before Christmas, Nancy Moormann reached the end of her rope. Henry was coming and going at all hours of the night. She was seeing less of her congenial boy and more "attitude." Then one day she found a rifle in his room in the basement. "Guns are not a part of my life," she told him. Henry was terrified of being thrown out of the house. Whenever things had gotten too tense between him and his mom, he'd always made her promise not to kick him out. "I'd never throw you out," she would tell him. "I adore you. I love to have you here."
But finding the gun was the last straw. "I said, 'Take a break. You're going to have to go live somewhere else for a while.'" Henry moved into the Lakeland Motel in St. Louis Park.
Ten days later he was ready to apologize. On a sheet of note paper, Nancy Moormann wrote up a contract: no guns, no drugs, keep your room clean. If he went on to school at a community college, she would pay for it. In the meantime, he had to work and pay rent. On November 1, Henry signed the contract and moved back in.
Two months later he was dead.
Nancy Moormann has spent the long days and nights since her son's death picking over the pieces of their life together, as if comprehension could mitigate loss. "I don't know what I would have done much differently," she muses. "I suppose I could have put my foot down harder, louder, stronger. I don't know. He was the type of kid who could work around things like that. He always had a job. I insisted that he had to have a job, or a sport, or an after-school activity. He always chose the job. I suppose so there would always be a reason to have that much money.
"I was trying, but on the other hand there was a little bit of out of sight, out of mind. He didn't bring the drug-dealing under my nose, and therefore I could ignore it. I know I'm articulate. I know I'm responsive as a parent. I've always been that way. I knew what was happening, but I didn't know. I was so busy trying to make something right that I missed the thing."
More than 400 people showed up for the funeral. Not just Henry's high-school friends in the 2-1 crowd, but friends he'd had in Kenwood when he was just a little guy, every teacher he'd ever had from kindergarten on. Nancy Moormann asked mourners to make donations in Henry's name to Big Brothers and Sisters of Greater Minneapolis in the hope that some other kid might find the mentor she now believes might have helped her son.
"Henry was special," his mother says. "There were so many people who were working for him. But he was on this collision course.... I always had this wonderful vision of him turning the corner the way his sister did." Her fantasy included a version of events in which Henry went back to school and tripped across some English or art course that got him excited about something broader than his gangster image. "Some of his friends have said they've made the turn. Henry didn't do it."
There are those who insist the 2-1 Click died on the Richfield parking lot with Henry Moormann--if not before. "2-1 is a dead issue at Southwest," says Assistant Principal Nancy Glenn. Among parents, it's the same story. "It's over. It's done. It's history," says Hokeness. "Hopefully this article in City Pages will be the last we ever hear of the 2-1."
In one sense, the adults are correct. The graffiti is gone. The baseball caps emblazoned with the clique's logo have disappeared. Pershing Park and the neighborhood around it have remained quiet so far this spring. "We eliminated the things that define a gang as a gang," says Johnson. In other words, the semantic debate has been resolved.
But the Moormann shooting has brought renewed attention to the quiet neighborhood. Television crews from ABC's Primetime Live shot footage last summer for a segment that never ran. They're back, hoping to update the story. "It's the media [that] glorifies the thing," Hokeness complains. But with Charlie Seepersaud on the court calendar for June 15 in the first of the four trials connected with Moormann's death, and Justin Stiles up next in August, there should be no shortage of news coverage.
But even after these raw reminders are memories, the problems that gave rise to the 2-1 Click remain. If anything, to hear the kids tell it, they're worse. "The older people in my neighborhood want it to be this little community where nothing goes wrong and there's no problems," says Moy. He says the atmosphere has been poisoned. "I used to love walking around my neighborhood. Now I hate it. I could care less about it. I hate it. I hate everybody. I hate all the people. I hate a person who is scared. I hate a person who is disrespectful. I hate a person who ignores the fact that I'm alive. That's how all of the older people act."
Moy says his baggy pants and baseball cap flag him as an outsider now, a danger to his community. "I'm walking down the street and I see someone and they look at me a certain way and I know exactly how they think of me. I know I'm not like that. If you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you. But if I'm looked on as an asshole, I'm going to be an asshole to you."
Under the testosterone posturing there's an elegant truth to what he's saying, which is very simply that every society gets the children it deserves. It's a truth that won't wash away with the graffiti. "It's too late for my age group," says Delude, "but for the kids coming up, I've seen them, like, basically almost following in our footsteps."
Inspector Johnson of the MPD believes that the problem has simply gone underground. "People get lulled into thinking that the problem doesn't exist," Johnson warns. "The individuals in the gang who were committing the criminal acts are still doing that."
How closely the up-and-comers follow the 2-1 creed remains to be seen. Moormann's death might dull their excitement. Or it might make the idea of an outlaw clique even more glamorous. The answers seem likely to come along with warm weather and the end of the school year.
Henry Moormann, for one, was concerned. "He was very worried about the upcoming summer, about what was going to happen, what was going to go down, how safe it was going to be, who was going to be doing what with whom," his mother says. "He was very apprehensive."
What Nancy Moormann has heard from Henry's friends since he died worries her, too. "They're angry," she says she's heard, "and they want to retaliate. What they're doing is maybe not going forward, but falling back on the same old stuff. The kids are desperately unhappy.
"They're feeling very guilty. His friends feel guilty that it was him alone, that they weren't there for him, that there wasn't safety in numbers." She pauses and thinks that one over for a while.
"Yeah, there he was alone. So much for the 2-1 Click."
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