Say Their Name: Ralph Yarl

The teen’s story will exist as fuel to the fiery passion within the heart of the movement.

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 Taking place in Kansas City, Missouri, on April 13th, 84-year-old Andrew Lester is accused of shooting 16-year-old Ralph Yarl on Lester’s doorstep as a form of self-defense. Approximately at 10PM, Yarl mistakenly rang the doorbell to the wrong address, looking to pick up his siblings from babysitting. In an instant, the black teen was shot through the front glass door just after he rang the doorbell, according to a probable cause statement filed by police. 

  According to the gunman, he had laid his head unto his pillow when he heard a ring at his doorbell. Filled with suspicion, Lester approached the front door armed with a .32-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver. When Lester saw a black male he had no recollection of pulling at the exterior handle of his front door, Lester thought his home was being broken into. The gunman sent fire twice through the glass of the door, prompting the young man to run away as Lester used his home cell phone to dial 911 on the scene. Yarl was shot and wounded in his forehead and right arm. 

  Lester said firing his weapon “was the last thing he wanted to do, but he was ‘scared to death'” because of his age and the male’s size, police wrote. Given that Lester lives alone, his actions seemed to be motivated in self-defense. Police also discovered that Lester had a security system installed in his home, but investigators were brought to no success in preserving evidence since the equipment was broken. 

  Looking further into the scene, investigators of the gunman’s testimonies found that they do not quite match up with those of survivor Yarl. According to the hospitalized teen, Yarl never pulled on the door and instead, he rang the doorbell and waited for a response. Yarl came face-to-face with the gunman and was “immediately shot in the head and fell to the ground.” Additionally, Yarl reported that he heard a voice say, “Don’t come around here,” at the encounter. The teen was shot again, this time in the arm, and fled the scene in search of safety. 

  Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Thompson suggested that there exists a racial component to this case given that Lester is a white man and Yarl is a black teen. In response to Thompson’s judgment, Alex K. Higginbotham, a prosecutor’s spokesman, stated that Lester will not be charged with a hate crime due to it existing as 4 classes lesser than the A felony he has been charged with initially. 

  Lester was taken into custody by  Clay County officers and he was soon released an evening after Lester posted bail of $200,000. In response to the lease, Cleo Nagbe, Yarl’s mother, told NBC News outside the Clay County Courthouse Tuesday, April 18th, “I just want justice to be served, so whatever is the right amount of justice for this situation should be granted out to him. Nothing more, nothing less, just the right amount, that’s it.”

  Nagbe worked alongside lawyer S Lee. Merritt, representing the teen. Merritt stated, “We’re frustrated with law enforcement and their failure to take responsibility for the denial of this family’s due process. No one has owned up to it,” Merritt said. “This 16-year-old unarmed boy didn’t actually pose a threat. But far too often in America, his skin alone is his weapon.” It is still not determined whether Lester had a lawyer or not during this case. 

  Although there remained no clear evidence that Lester was going to be protected during this case, his grandson, Klint Ludwig, emerged from the sidelines to share his account regarding the tragedy. “The warning signs were there. I wasn’t shocked when I heard the news,” Ludwig told CNN on Thursday . “I believe he held – holds – racist tendencies and beliefs,” (Holly Yan, CNN). Eventually, Lester was able to obtain an attorney, Steven Salmon; to Ludwig’s testimony, however, Salmon held no comments. 

  Ralph Yarl has thankfully survived the attack and his long road to recovery continues. Yarl has been released from the hospital and is healing under the care of his mother, Cleo Nagbe. 

  The Black community has been gifted with Ralph’s miracle of survival, but the fight for equality won’t cease to halt. The teen’s story will exist as fuel to the fiery passion within the heart of the movement, and Ralph Yarl’s name shall continue to be uttered on the determined lips of the people. Say their name: Ralph Yarl.