In another heart-breaking tragedy, Gynnya died during her overnight custody at a state-run juvenile detention center in Hardin County, Kentucky. She was sixteen, and was found dead on January 11.
There have of course been many protests, petitions for ‘justice’ in her name, and media reports asking what caused her death, and describing the abysmal and cavalier ways that Lincoln Village personnel allowed her to become yet another #hashtag killed by police/security agents, no life-checks as required, though cameras had shown no movement, no responses from her for hours. So far, there’ve been no answers, given that the coroner found no physical evidence of cause, thus suspecting ‘no foul play’. Tox screens are pending, as is reported DNA testing to be performed by the Mayo Clinic; to what end, sources can’t say.
When two or three days ago I came upon this kycir.org (it also has the timeline of her hideous time at the center) inquiry into Gynnya’s life and family history, I was not only caught off-guard, but have been haunted by her story, which prompted an old Gary Jules song to keeping playing in my mind.
Gynnya grew up in more than challenging circumstances, and had been in out-of-home placements several times, most recently since July, 2016, at Louisville’s Maryhurst Family Treatment Center in Louisville, ‘the state’s oldest child-welfare agency, whose programs include residential treatment, two community-based therapeutic group homes and foster care’.
She and her mother, Michelle McMillen had received some counseling sessions, and Gwynnya was about to be released to return to her family. In preparation for that time, she made the last, as it turned out, overnight visit in a series with her mother on January 10. That was when things went haywire. She allegedly had attacked her mother, pulled her hair, and scratched her face. ‘Mother’ called the police, and during the five-minutes of the recorded 911 call, the disgusting invective her mother aimed at her daughter provided a window into what Gynnya’s life with her must have been like. It was said that Gynnya could be wailing ‘No, I didn’t,’ in the background. When the police arrived, she was outside, and was taken to Lincoln (it takes a) ‘Village’ at the ‘detainment’ order of a local judge.
Now she had lived for some unspecified time with her father, and no descriptions of what her life with him have surfaced. But he had died in 2014; public records indicate that her older sister, now 27, had been convicted of arson in 2011. Yes, all of it adds up to Gynnya’s having lived in an extremely dysfunctional family environment, and who knows how many traumatic events she’d experienced. The amount of fear she must have experienced haunts me, as well as how little security she must ever have felt. What did she dream at night?
This is her sister’s Justice for Gynnya Facebook page. By all accounts, she was a charming girl, despite such heavy odds. She liked to dance, and must have loved whimsy: look at her Marilyn Monroe with a belly tat shirt; how fun, no?KeeganStephan had Tweeted the facts that protestors in NYC had put on posters recently.
It may occur to you that the song resonates for me so personally due to my own life’s story, and I expect you’d be right. It makes me cry, especially when I hear ‘the dreams where I am dying’ lyrics, so I am possibly projecting it onto Gynnya. Many of us carry wounds from our childhoods, and many have worked at becoming our more authentic, born wonderful, selves. But given that her life would have been far more impacted by her dysfunctional family even than my own, I can easily imagine that she sometimes succumbed to seeing the world as the sort of ‘mad’ on display here:
mad world (the lyrics)
Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy birthday, happy birthday
And to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me, what’s my lesson?
Look right through me, look right through me…
My wish and prayers for Gynnya is that in the afterlife, she knows that she is one of the Superheroes Antonio Ramos (Rest in Peace and Paint) painted so inspirationally in Oakland.
In other police state news:
‘Feds Won’t Charge NYPD Officer in Fatal 2012 Shooting of Ramarley Graham’ (he was unarmed, killed by the nypd), dnainfo.com
‘Freddie Gray case: Maryland high court says Officer Porter must testify against all five co-defendants’, Baltimore Sun, March 8