Until the early morning of April 28, 2015, home for Laporsha Lawson and her son Khai’Lee Sampson who is severely disabled was at Hilton Street and Piedmont Avenue.
All of that changed on Monday April 27 when after the funeral of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore riots occurred. Ms. Lawson’s home was located next to a liquor store that was burned down by arsonists. Even though Ms. Lawson was able to save her son she lost many items that her son needed relating to his health.
“They took everything from my child,” said Lawson, 28.
The wheelchair customized for Khai’Lee’s small body, the back brace that helps him sit upright, the machine that pumps oxygen into his lungs when he stops breathing at night — all were destroyed. So were the supplies for his feeding tube, his clothes, even his new swing.
As Lawson cradled the 7-year-old on her parents’ sofa recently, she said she felt betrayed by her neighborhood.
While she understands the rioters’ anger at the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old who suffered a spinal injury in police custody, she can’t understand why people would destroy their own community.
“Everybody wants justice for Freddie Gray,” said Lawson. “But what about justice for Khai’Lee?”
Lawson, who goes by Porsha, and her parents, Jerome and Gloria Dukes, believe arsonists were attempting to destroy the liquor store adjacent to Lawson’s home in the Hanlon-Longwood neighborhood, about a mile west of Mondawmin Mall.
I agree with Ms. Lawson. I have never understood why people burn down and destroy their own neighborhoods. If it hadn’t been for her neighbor Ms. Lawson and her son could have been killed in that fire.
Until she can find another home Ms. Lawson is living with her parents in Baltimore.
Lawson and Khai’Lee have been staying with her parents since the fire. It’s a tight squeeze, as her grandfather and eldest nephew are also staying in the house. Piles of clothes and diapers that have been donated to Lawson and her son are stacked around the living room.
On a recent afternoon, Khai’Lee reclined on the sofa. His legs, delicate as a bird’s, were bent at a sharp angle. His big brown eyes darted back and forth, framed by long lashes.
“He looks flushed,” murmured his grandmother, angling the fan to blow on his face. His grandfather wiped drool away from the corner of the boy’s mouth.
Gloria Dukes said she’ll never forget the sight of Lawson, her youngest child, standing at the door with the boy cradled in her arms. She could see the flames in the distance behind them.
There is an online fundraiser going on right now to help Ms. Lawson and her son. So far more than $28,000 has been raised but that still isn’t enough to replace Khai’Lee’s medical equipment. Check it out here. I read that Beyonce and Jay Z helped bail out some of the Baltimore protesters after the riots. Maybe someone can let them know about Ms. Lawson and her son so they can rebuild their lives.
You can read the entire article here at the Baltimore Sun.