So, as I nosed my car out of its parking space and headed south toward the Mason-Dixon line, my head was flooded with thoughts. Yes, we had succeeded in doing the unthinkable — capturing “00” and getting a slew of charges to stick. And yes, a jury had heard the evidence and had been convinced by our excellent prosecution team that Anthony “00′ Boykin was the leader, the kingpin, of the BOUNTY HUNTER BLOODS. And yes, Lamont “City” Young’s family could now find whatever closure a murder victim’s family can ever find.
But I thought back to the lengthy discussion “00” and I had shared the night we wrested power from him and he stubbornly began to realize that the life he had known before his arrest in October of 2009 was fast slipping away.
He’d warned there’d be others waiting in the wings to fill the vacuum left by his removal from the chess board. Of this, I was certain he was prescient.
And he’d also lamented the “what if’s,” the speculation that if he had only been exposed to better options as a youngster, or had had a strong male figure in his life to help steer him towards a different organization or future profession than the one offered by the BLOODS.
Yet his story was emblematic of so many others just like him.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat…
And on Thursday, March 20, 2014, Newburgh’s reign of terror ended quietly, without so much as a whimper. Anthony “00” Boykin was sentenced by Judge McMahon to a Life sentence plus 32 years for his role in the murders and mayhem he had wrought upon Newburgh.
I was satisfied with the verdict. I was satisfied with the sentence. I was happy for my adopted city. And I grieved for the scores of senselessly wasted lives.
It had now been some four years and five months since I rose from the table and turned towards the door in the City of Newburgh Police Department’s Interview Room. That had concluded my two-hour one-on-one conversation with the leader of the BOUNTY HUNTER BLOODS. I’d turned back once to look at him after he’d called me “Coach.” We had reminisced about what might have been…what should of been.
As the three burly U.S. Marshals led him from the courtroom for a final time, I stayed glued to my seat in a back row of the public seating area. I watched as “00,” the picture of composure and quiet resignation, strode purposely toward the side courtroom exit for custodial defendants. He turned just once, a quick glance over his shoulder. I thought I could make out an almost imperceptible nod in my direction. No wink this time, the self-assured veneer of gang chieftain armor had been replaced by the wearied facade of a man who had spent nearly five years in a cell.
As he disappeared into the abyss, the dark shadows of the exit doorway swallowing him whole, I looked down. Why had fate not seen to it that Anthony Boykin, a prodigious leader of men, hadn’t been afforded the early life guidance to take advantage of available opportunities? The talent that enabled men like him, or Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, or El Chapo to rise to the upper echelons of their criminal organizations is the EXACT SAME talent necessary to run a large corporation, or a successful Non-Profit, a professional sports team, the FBI, or the country.
So, my satisfaction at the conclusion of a case that had taken years to put together and a miraculous team effort of agencies and departments that weren’t historically known to play well with one another, was tempered. I was convinced we should’ve been able to interdict “00” before he murdered “City.” I blamed myself for that victim. I was also convinced that I should have been able to “interdict” a young Anthony Boykin on Liberty Street, outside of the Newburgh Boys & Girls Club, long before he began his life of crime and his association with the BOUNTY HUNTER BLOODS.
So for those who see law enforcement officers as automatons or as unfeeling, uncaring, “racist,” indifferent, callous, and brutish thugs, I share the above story with you. Not a day has gone by since that sentencing in March of 2014, that I don’t recall the view of Anthony Boykin’s shape disappearing for the last time through that courtroom exit. And I imagine whether in some small way I missed an opportunity to prevent that from happening. Maybe “City” would still be alive. Maybe Special Agent Boykin would be working in Manhattan as a member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Maybe…
But I can’t be consumed by these thoughts. There are other “Anthony Boykins” out there. And I can only help to save those who still call me “Coach” … or who call me “Professor” now.
I know that Anthony Boykin reads a lot in prison. This, I’ve heard. Maybe he’ll read this one day and use what precious time he has left on this earth to make a difference in some youngsters’ lives.
Could he write a memoir, steering others away from the path he chose? He’s certainly intelligent enough to draft a manuscript. Proceeds, of course, to be donated to his victims’ families.
Could he become a mentor in prison to warn of the perils of gang life? Where he once used incarceration as a minor league, of sorts, to recruit more BOUNTY HUNTER BLOODS, maybe now he could now help steer young and impressionable inmates away from that dead-end pursuit.
We have to break the cycle of Lather, Rinse, Repeat…
There are new gangs proliferating in Newburgh now. And though the violence has abated some, lowered from the high visibility White House radar, there are still pockets of gang infestations and scores of young men angling to become the next “00.”
You taught me a few things that night, “00.”
Maybe you can help all of us teach some of these young men that their futures can portend better things than what the gang life portends. You are forever a cautionary tale — for young inner-city boys enamored of the ‘thug life’ and for a society that doesn’t sense the pandemic of hopelessness just outside the gated communities on the golf courses.
Maybe you (we) can finally use your (our) powers for good now.