Was it 1976? I don’t know,” said an older, gray-haired black man who declined to give his name. His family, along with many others, had come to the neighborhood’s park for a day of basketball. For years they had watched white families from their houses, but over time, they were seeing more and more black families with children of their own.
The park is known as the “Little People’s Corner,” a nickname coined in recent years by white residents who are unhappy that Africanians are moving into the neighborhoods. In recent weeks, the area had a particularly strong black presence.
A woman with a baby in her arms and a white handprint was sitting on a bench by the playground. At about the same time, an African-American man with a small baby in his arms was standing on the bench. A middle-aged white boy stood on the other side of the park.
That day, the group — about 40 adults and children — was all black. Some of the black families who lived in the neighborhood had lived there for years and owned homes there.
Then there were other white families with black families moving into their houses. Some thought the neighborhood, which has been around for a century, was becoming a minority. Some argued about whether black Americans who could afford to move out of their homes should stay. The park had become a magnet for newcomers, many from other parts of the city.
As they had at church on Sunday, some old black residents felt that black residents were taking advantage of the park by renting out their houses at an affordable rent.
“What we said, in the beginning, was that you can’t turn off the lights,” said one of the men who was at the park the morning of Oct. 8, a week before the shooting.
Those who felt that way tried to stop the white families, who made it through the day without incident. They wanted the whites to leave but had difficulty.
Rasheed Wilson, who is white, said that at one point when he was walking his dog one of the whites asked why he was walking a black dog. When he pointed out that the dog was black, he said the whites began yelling that they would “have to kill everyone here and everyone in this neighborhood.”
Wilson said that the white families who rented out their houses were also telling him that they were going to kill everyone, including white teachers at the school who were teaching a course on how to talk to blacks
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