Apr 11, 2011

Harlem church to post bail for prep student turned gang-banger

This child should have picked up Sister Souljah's book, The Coldest Winter Ever.  That book should be a  must-read for every young girl whether they live in the suburbs or the hood.

Members of the Abyssinian Baptist Church voted Thursday night to post a $25,000 cash bail for the release of 17-year-old Afrika Owes from Rikers Island.

Owes has been at Rikers since mid-February, when she and 14 other alleged gang members were accused of drug dealing and gun running. Prosecutors say that the student fell under the influence of her boyfriend, Jaquan Layne, who led a violent street gang in her Harlem neighborhood.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin wouldn't allow the church to post bail until the majority of the congregation agreed.

According to Ted Shaw, attorney for the church and member of the congregation, the church voted unanimously to post the bail in a congregation meeting consisting of "500 to 600 members."

"I'm not in a position to say that it's done until the judge approves it," said Shaw. "But we resolved all of the issues that he wanted us to address."

According to Shaw, the church is waiting to post the bail because "we want to make sure Afrika Owes has the support she needs when she gets out."

However, Shaw said that "it will be days, not weeks" before the bail is posted.

Owes' mother, Karen Owes, was overjoyed.

"As a mother, I'm happy and I'm with my church family," she said.

Afrika Owes, a brainy student who attended the prestigious Deerfield Academy on a scholarship before she left for breaking school rules, is worried about getting her schoolwork back on track.

"I called her, and she would constantly ask 'Can you bring my work? Can you bring my work?" said Owes' mother. "She just wants to get her schoolwork done and study for the SATs."

According to Owes' mother, Owes is "very happy" about the church's decision.

The church will also be glad to have Afrika Owes back. "Afrika Owes has been at Abyssinian since nursery school," said Shaw. "The Sunday School teachers, the deacons, and the ministry know her very well."

Reverend Calvin Butts, the chief pastor of the church, won't abandon Owes whether or not she is eventually found guilty, Shaw says.

Source - TheGrio

"We know that young people make mistakes," he added. "If she did make those mistakes, the church will stand by her."

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