Rabai Parrott has been a Lynwood community activist for nearly 15 years. She is president of the Lynwood African Americans for Academic Excellence parent group, and the African American Advisory Committee, vice president of Sista to Sista and Lynwood’s Finest Bro to Bro At Risk Youth Project, mentor for the African American Parent/Community Coalition for Educational Equity, director of the Rites of Passage Program, and Teens for Christ at Greater New Unity Baptist Church.
Parrott is no stranger to struggle in her community, but when local tension brought gunfire to her door, the fight became personal.
On Thursday, Aug. 23, at around 9:30 p.m., as Parrott and her family unloaded groceries, a red SUV pulled up and opened fire on them, striking Parrott’s 26-year-old son Delvon Dennis three times, his 24-year-old girlfriend Abony Lee seven times, and their 4-year-old son Jordan Dennis once. Parrott was not hit but suffered minor scrapes and bruises trying to escape the gunfire. All survived their injuries.
According to Parrott, sheriff’s deputies did not close off the cul-de-sac where the incident occurred, no helicopters came out to scout the area, the officers did not arrive in a timely fashion, even though the department is close to the family’s home, and bullet casings were left in front of the apartment building after the investigation. As of Wednesday, no suspects had been apprehended and the sheriff’s department had not returned several calls for comment on how the case was handled.
What upsets the family most, she said, is that deputies have been insinuating that the family had something to do with the shooting, and have assigned the case to the gang unit.
“No one in my household is a gang member. I’m a leader in my community and I have lived here for 14 years pushing nonviolence, so that is the opposite of what I stand for. My son is in college and he suffers from anxiety, he is not a gang member, nor is his girlfriend. It’s just not true, and it upsets me that we are being portrayed this way. Even the mayor said she believed the shooting was a gang initiation when she first heard about it,” said Parrott.
Parrott and her family believe that the shooting could have been retaliation against her for pushing African American initiatives in an area that is predominately Hispanic. She said there has been an increase in tension between Blacks and Latinos in the area.
When asked if she is afraid to leave her home now, Parrott said that faith gets her through.
“God is with me. He was with us that night, which is why we all survived. The shooters haven’t been apprehended yet so that causes some fear, but I have the right to live. I still have things that I need to do on a daily basis. I can’t give in to fear. Really, my sons fear for me more than I fear for myself,” said Parrott.
As a heavily involved community advocate, Parrott has for years attended City Council meetings, district meetings, and school district meetings presenting issues of violence, and racism in the community, but she says her efforts have continuously been swept under the rug.
“Will they listen to me now? Are you going to listen to me now?” Parrott asked, heavy with emotion.
Though some African American families are considering leaving the neighborhood to escape the violence, Parrott wants to remain and work to unite both the African American and the Latino communities.
The family and the sheriff’s department are still looking for suspects in the shooting that occurred on the 11000 block of Esther Street in Lynwood.
Anyone with useful information in the case is encouraged to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department at (323) 568-4777.
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