Category Archives: Florida

Father’s Day

“We don’t necessarily know how to hear stories about any kind of violence, because it is hard to accept that violence is as simple as it is complicated, that you can love someone who hurts you, that you can stay with someone who hurts you, that you can be hurt by someone who loves you, that you can be hurt by a complete stranger, that you can be hurt in so many, terrible, intimate ways.” Hunger, Roxane Gay.


This is a story of hurt.

This is a story of violence.

Sunday, I went to church. Ya’ll know I don’t go to church. My reason for going was similar to some children going to church on Mother’s Day. I knew it would make my father happy. I am a child, I like to make my parents happy.  In the 7 weeks since I moved to Florida I have rarely been in town on a Sunday. I have rarely left the house other than to find food or go to Crossfit. I spend my days largely at home and since my father works from home – I spend a lot of time with him.

I get anxious when I go to my childhood church. At times, I bring friends to deflect the attention that is geared towards me. I am rarely seen- people get excited to see me. Their excitement also comes with a host of questions, many of which I do not want answer. However, there is a beauty in returning that I see more as I age. On Sunday, I remembered feeling a warmness of being surrounded by people who have known me all my life and who I have known all their lives.  The children I left when I went to college over 13 years are young adults-who appear older than me. My father became the pastor when I was 6 months old, I have history here. Often the bad history overshadows the good. But there is a lot of good. After the passing of the peace, it was time for the sermon.

Shortly after he stood to start the sermon, my father made a joke that I found transphobic and repulsive. His words caught me off guard. I have no memories of my father every being homophobic or transphobic from the pulpit. The laughter echoed by some in the congregation made the violence of his statement reverberate through my spirit. Violence accompanied smiles and laughter still causes harm. It is as harmful as violence accompanied by screams and physical harm. My whole body changed as I heard his words. I was confused. I did not understand the purpose of the “joke.” Just moments before he had been relatively inclusive about ideas of “fathers,” just to ultimately define one ability to be a father by their genitals.

The words spoken by my father would have caused me to get up and leave the service if it was spoken by anyone else. I sat and wrestled with my inability to leave. I did not want to upset my father or throw his focus off during his sermon. Although, I believe he saw my face and body shift when he spoke those words-he quickly shifted to another topic. I was shock to a point where I could not really move. I felt betrayed. Gender is my life. I wonder how real the conversations my father and I have had about gender was? I thought that he would be more conscious about the harm his words can cause from the pulpit.

As I sat the harm that I experienced in the church came back. The realization that the church will never be a safe space for folks like me and those I love.  I have stories of harm inside of those walls that seem endless. Those experiences have led me to research and do the work I now do. These experiences taught me that my queerness and my gender were problems, that they prevented me from truly being loved by my creator. So much came into my head. By the time alter call came, so did the tears. So did the tears. I remember someone rubbing my back. They probably thought I was overcome with the “spirit.” I was crying because I had been hurt. I was harmed by his words & his laughter. I was harmed by someone I love more than almost anything in the world.

We are a family of awkward and corny jokes. These jokes at times reveal the truth of situations. I believe and know I am my parent’s favorite. Not despite my queerness but because of my queerness. I joked with my father that I didn’t have the luxury of heterosexuality so I must be perfect. I wonder how much my performance of “good” is tied to my queerness, to me not being a “believer.” Never asking too much from parents. Always giving. Always wanting to help. My drive to finish school and get degrees. My need for them to be proud of me. For them to know I am still good even though I am not a Christian. That I am still worthy of their love even being queer. I see this same drive towards perfection and “success” in many of my queer friends. They are doctors and lawyers- they are the ones their families go to for financial help. Yet, they are the ones being encouraged to change. They could never do half the things their trifling siblings do.

I was grateful that I sat near the back of the church. I left immediately after alter call. I did not have the strength to engage in small talk with anyone.

During the service, I texted my younger brother and told him what had happen. He told me that those words did not even sound like our father, something I agree with. I wondered who is this man speaking right now. He was so different from the man who I have deep and meaningful conversations with. My brother- the pastor told me he was sorry for the harm I experienced.

I called him when I left. He was preparing for his own Sunday service. I appreciate him taking the time to talk to me. I appreciate his love for me. I love him for his desire (and his actions) to make church a safer place not only for me-his sibling but for all of us.

Typically, when one experience harm from the pulpit, they can walk away from the church. I live with this man. I live in his house. His face looks like mine. My plan was to be out the house as much as possible on Sunday. I didn’t want to see him but I also did not want to ruin his “Father’s Day.”

I called my childhood friend. She was at work. I called her because I knew she understood harm through her adolescence experiences growing up in my father’s church. The church (my father included) allowed a man and his unchecked toxic masculinity to destroy young adult lives. He outed my friends. Force her to tell her mother about her sexuality. Prevented her from participating in the choir all in an effort to make her “straight.” There were other things, but that’s not my story to tell. Sunday, my friend told me she was broken by that experience and she believes it change the trajectory of her life for the worse. The pain was still there. The hurt was present in her voice.

Growing up I knew pieces of her story. I knew how they were treating her was wrong. Her experience was a cautionary tale for me. It showed me what happens to queer children. I was charged somehow with being a good role model for her. I remember her mother telling me, “I wish she (her daughter) was more like you.” That does something to a child. I knew her adoration for me had everything to do with my performance of heterosexuality and my “good” grades. I knew I had to maintain those things to avoid being an outcast. My friend was an outcast, I knew I didn’t want to be treated like they treated her.

On the phone I wished my friend a Happy Father’s Day.- for her role in raising her girlfriend’s child. We talked to her shift was over. I follow her girlfriend on snapchat- I saw that they surprised my friend with a Father’s Day celebration.

I want to tell my father that people with penis do not own the title of father. Just like they do not own masculinity. I want to tell my father that people with vaginas do not own the title of mother. Just like they do not own femininity. Black and Brown Queer folks have redefined and created families when their own families were inhospitable and violent places. See the real work that house mothers and fathers have done to care and nurture Black and Brown Queer youth in ballroom culture and beyond. Shit, I can let you know why they called me daddy but that’s a NSFW topic.

Staying out the house was harder than I expected. My date went ghost on me. I aint trippin tho’ we had one good tipsy night together.

My natural reaction to being hurt is to shut down. Close myself off to others. Try to ignore the hurt until it is a distant memory.

Since Sunday morning my father has told me he loves me more times than I can count.

Monday, he came in my room. Told me he never wants to hurt me. That he loved me. That his greatest joy is seeing me happy. That he is sorry for anything he has done to hurt me and he loves me unconditionally. Then he grabbed me and hugged me. I wept. There is so much I am unpacking.

I do not doubt my father’s love for me. I do know his love and ability to see me is clouded by what society and religion teaches us. We live in a transphobic, homophobic and anti-Black world, it is only natural that he/we internalize these messages. I am fighting to unlearn these messages.

Monday night, I left for Colombia. I am grateful for the time away to think and process. I am thinking about what happens after harm. I am thinking about what healing and reconciliation looks like. I am committed to liberation and wholeness in my life. I am not afraid to leave those behind that do not contribute to this. But I am invested in building bridges and trying with those who so clearly love me, but have not been taught how to love and protect people like me.  Love is not enough action is needed. So perhaps, when I get home I will have real conversation with my father and explain to him the work he needs to do if he wants me in his life in a real concrete way. It is enough for me to feel safe with him, I want to know that those around me can also feel safe and free to be themselves. There is a lot more to this. I am reminded of the ways that unaddressed trauma resurfaces. I am grateful that I have more tools and language to deal with trauma than I did at 19.  I am thankful that I know “I am holy, by my own.”




(You like how I slide in that I am in Colombia for the week. Estoy en Medellín)






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Practice what you preach…

I tend to post a lot of things about HIV/AIDS on my FaceBook page or even here. It’s a topic that is important to me. Maybe this is because I was a HIV/AIDS peer educator in high school. Or because I know people living with HIV/AIDS. Perhaps its because too many talented people died because of AIDS. Or that I know my friends are not practicing safe sex. Or because 1 in 5 people with HIV/AIDS or aware of their status. HIV/AIDS affects me.

June 5th marked 30 years since the first confirmed AIDS case. Thankfully, HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence anymore.

I been stepping up my posting HIV/AIDS posting game on FB. Yesterday,  I posted things about Sylvester James a music icon who died of AIDS.

I started thinking- I hope people don’t think I have HIV/AIDS since I post these things. I remember going through anxiety over whether or not I should “like” the FB pages for Greater than AIDS or The Black AIDS Institute, not wanting people to think that because I am interested in HIV/AIDS activism that I am infected. Typically when I start worrying about what others will think, that’s a sign for me to do it anyway. Which is why i “liked” Trans Queer: A Trans Fag Sex Journal on FB last week. I like to think that I am not afraid to talk about anything. This internal conflict in my head shows how strong the stigma is around HIV/AIDS. Not even wanting to be associated with it because of the fear that people might think I have it. It should not even really be about whether one is positive or negative, more about knowing your status. So I posted about HIV/AIDS online yesterday and I realized that I haven’t been tested since October. Generally people should be tested every 3-6 months. But since I don’t “really” have sex, I don’t really think about getting tested. I guess its my Christian background which gives me the tendency to not practice what I preach. I remember how difficult it was last time I was home in WPB to find a place that did HIV/STD testing, especially after 5:30 when people who work are free. I really do understand why some people don’t get tested, you would think the process would be easier with the rates of STD’s here in Florida. Getting tested even when you are pretty sure that you are negative is extremely stressful. In my head I replay all these redicouclous ways that I could have gotten infected. Like…the time I got a paper cut…who knows what bodily fluids was on that piece of paper or some other highly improbable way. So I went to to look up free places that did the rapid testing last night and planned to go today. Later that night I came across this video. The guy is hillarous but still addresses a lot the issues that one goes through when they get tested for HIV.

So I got tested this morning. In this random community/faith based testing facility. It was small and had bible quotes all over the place. The test was easy enough, a prick on the finger for blood. Then I was asked questions about my sexual history. The norm. Of course, I was sweating bullets as I waited for the results even though I don’t “really” have sex. I got my results back…negative AND they gave me a free $10  giftcard to Publix just for getting tested. That is motivation to take a HIV/AIDS test everyday…food is expensive.  Even though I was not really worried about being infected it felt good to have my negative status confirmed. Knowing is truly beautiful. Talking about it helps remove the stigma.

In other news I have this great post about me and Oprah that I started writing on May 20th and have yet to finish. No worries I am getting my life together and I will finish that within the next 2 days. In the meantime I will be leaving the country to begin my summer travels on June 19th. This year I am going back to Guatemala, as well as visiting El Salvador, Honduras and El Salvador. I am planning to be away for about 5 weeks.

Be Safe.

~Just Tab


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Look back. Look forward. Spring & Summer ’11

Last Saturday I submitted my last paper of the first year of my doctoral program. The previous Thursday I was informed that I passed my qualifying exams and I was being “invited” back for a second year- Suffice to say I am a 2nd year PhD student. As lovely as that is to type, it does little for my dating life.

Let’s get into the recap of my life since January.

I have always hated bras. They are uncomfortable and restricting. I have gotten resized, change brands and they are still the most uncomfortable things ever. I constantly take them off the moment I can, sometime in class, at friends’ houses or my car. This leads to me finding them at very random places. Since I could never keep them on for long, I decided to stop wearing them this year. It has worked out pretty well. Of course, I wear bras to church, special occasions and to work out. Other than that I stay bra-free. I have to say it’s pretty liberating and since I have issues with buttoning up my shirt all the way I have been told it’s pretty hot as well. Most times people can’t tell unless I want them to, I have discovered button downs makes it pretty unnoticeable. At first it felt pretty awkward teaching a class or something minus a bra, now it has become pretty much the norm. However, it has yet to become the norm for my mother “Tab, you are still not wearing a bra?!?!?” I have also become increasingly aware of cold temperatures in rooms for obvious reasons. I am starting a movement, spend more braless. Get free. Of course, this might be easier for me because of again obvious reasons.

As of March I have been a vegan- no animal products at all. Why? It’s a combination of a couple things- The influence of my vegan friend Nitty, Oprah doing a show on vegans, needing something to give up for Lent and a personal challenge. So instead of doing it for 40-days, I decided to do it for 3 months. It’s been good, not as bad as my pork loving self would have thought. I have discovered the joys of Ethiopian food, reading food labels, and quinoa among other things. I am actually kind of sad to have it end in a couple of weeks. I have decided to be vegan during the school year because I think it makes me more energized.  Plus, I like feeling superior to carnivores…”Oh, I am vegan.” My parents wants to get down with the vegan train…I am turning everybody out. Come on, Atira. Do it!

Also since March I have started kickboxing class. Before this it’s been a couple years since I have worked out, mostly because it’s boring. Kickboxing has been the most intense and fun workout I have ever had. I normally stop working out when I feel sweat forming; now I leave kickboxing now drenched.  It also doesn’t hurt that my instructor Jordan is one of the sexiest white man I have ever seen.

Oh yeah, school. It’s challenging to say the least, but no complaints. I signed up for it. I really could not have made it through the semester without the musical styling of Nicki Minaj, Sugarland, Lupe Fiasco, Kirk Franklin and B. Slade. My long distant PhD buddies Don and Al. My AZ PhD buddy Asantewa and our Sunday study dates aka Black power summit sessions. Gchats with Tasha and Kali. Trinty UCC Sunday service webcast. My parents and my lil brother Jeremiah. Of, course Jesus the Christ. Randomly, Asantewa and I started going around campus, finding Black people and having them throw up the Black power sign. I also participated in the ASU undies run, which basically involved me running around campus in my underwear for charity.God loves a cheerful giver I hear.

I was blessed to see Bill T. Jones, Maya Angelou and Angela Davis speak this semester.

But that is old news, the Spring semester is over. We are on to the SUMMER, the most amazing time of the year.

  1. Read. A lot. I have some book reviews to write. 50 plays to read in preparation for my comprehensive exams. Theory to learn. Hopefully squeezing in pleasure reading.
  2. Writing. I have some conference papers to finish/write. But I have also started a letter writing campaign. Basically I am sending letters/ postcards to my friends, family and strangers- whoever gives me their address. The majority of the mail we receive are either bills or advertisement- trying to change that. If you want a letter send your address to my e-mail. I am bringing back snail mail, saving the Post Service…all in a day’s task.
  3. Travel. In June I will be leaving Florida to travel to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua for about a month. Coming back to Florida for a bit then heading back to Arizona. Doing some road trips to California. Also, flying to Chicago before school starts again. Which you will all be hearing about extensively…
  4. Love. Mostly life and family. Flirting with strangers and friends. Breaking hearts and all that jazz. Shout out to single mothers who love Tab.

And there you have it. A Spring recap and a Summer preview.

~Just Tab.


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Thanksgiving. 2010.

Thanksgiving is a holiday that means little to me. I have no particularly fond memories of the day. My childhood memories are all blurred together by weeklong travels to Ft. Pierce so my parents could participate in the East Florida Primitive Baptist Association Convention. As a child that meant attending church services after church services, always on the prowl for another child to befriend. To pass notes with. Anything to stay awake during those long sermons that all merged into one. Thanksgiving dinner was usually shoved in between two of the monotonous services. Always carefully eating not to soil whatever pretty little dress I had on.

The one time we didn’t go, my parents opted to attend my mother’s family reunion in South Carolina. The Thanksgiving dinner came from Cracker Barrel-which I boycotted. My meal for that day consisted of Frosted Flakes and Oreos…together. I know now that those aren’t a good combination. My subsequent sickness was not the highlight of the trip,  the highlight came during the drive home. The windows in my father’s car broke and wouldn’t roll up. My brothers and I had to huddle together to remain warm with the 30 degree cold infiltrating the backseat.

Last year I was home in West Palm Beach for Thanksgiving , making it the second time I can remember being there for the holiday. And the first time I spent it with family. Spending holidays with family is usually code for me making a plate and bringing it back to my room to eat alone.

The revolutionary in me (which is sometimes subdued by the Republican in me) – is anti-Thanksgiving because of it racist and paternalistic origins. Shout out to those who participate in the National day of Mourning instead of Thanksgiving.

The Christian in me is anti-Thanksgiving because it promotes gluttony-one of the seven deadly sins.

The pork enthusiast in me is anti-Thanksgiving because it privileges turkey over the pig. And I hate Turkey…its so dry and a very awkward looking animal.

Here in Phoenix, away from family and friends, the desire to do anything on this day is at an all time low for me. None of the Thanksgiving day invites extended to me seemed appealing. Somehow eating with a bunch of semi-strangers who couldn’t or didn’t want to go home- didn’t sound too appealing. Especially since I am not sure what type of food white people eat for Thanksgiving…but I am sure it’s not fried and southern like I want it.

After reading some emails from a listserv/ yahoo group I am apart of, I reconsidered my pessimism and focused on what I am thankful for…

This year- 2010. I am thankful for two people who never ask or want me to be anything other than myself. Who give me space to grow and the courage to dream big. My biggest supporters/fans- My parents. They still manage to love me (no matter what) despite my many test of their love…

“Mom and Dad, I’m pregnant”

“Mom, I’m getting married-tomorrow”

“Mom, I am transgender”

“I’m a drug addict”

or whatever other foolishness I can make up as “confessions”

There answer is always “Ok, Tab-lets talk about it.” Despite the implausibility or unlikeliness of my “confessions”.

I will spend the majority of today home- writing papers and reading. Then dinner with my friend and her family (the only invitation from a real family/ black people I got). If I am productive enough maybe I will go out line dancing or for a drink.

To all who might be reading this- Have a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you are spending it the way you want, with the people you want. If you can’t find anything to be thankful for, you can just be thankful for knowing Tab.




The kids don’t stand a chance

Off and on for a year I have been substitute teaching in Palm Beach County public schools. Before that I worked in the Philadelphia school system for the better part of 2 years.

I have been inspired, frustrated, entertained, enraged, encouraged, and disillusioned in the process of working with the youth of America.

Last week I got B.O.B. new album. “The Kids” featuring Janelle Monae, is clear stand out in my opinion. It echoes how I feel about children in today’s society, particularly black children. There are so many odds stacked against these children it is easy to believe that “they don’t stand a chance”.  That is of course a self defeating prophesy, if you believe that there is no hope-there will be.

Janelle’s verse provides an accurate assessment to the realities while also providing hope for the situation.

Sometimes its hard to grow
While living in fear of the unknown.
Album coming soon
How can he ever give love,
When no love is in his heart.

A child can barely sleep at night,
Too worried bout tomorrow.
And what it behold, he drowned himself,
Deep down in his sorrow.

Will you run or will you show your life,
Tell a stories, live and try.
See it when were given hope,
That we would know we can grow.

I am looking forward to her album. Chick is GORGOROUS with a beautifully pure voice. She is very unique- exactly what music needs right now.



Today I subbed for a science teacher at the middle school I attended in 6th grade. The day was pretty uneventful, the children were pretty well-behaved. During the last class of the day I notice a student was wearing a pair of Jordan’s, which in itself is not remarkable because Jordan’s are a very popular brand. Looking at his shoes made me think of a boy I knew while I was a student at this school. His name was Rashad Brewster; we had both attended the same pre-school. He was also my “boyfriend” for a brief period in 6th grade. One of the things I remember about him is his love of Jordan’s, his mother would always buy him the latest pair. Even then it was beyond my comprehension why a single mother would pay 100+ dollars constantly for her 11 year old son. He was her only child, her world- subsequently he was very spoiled.  I maybe saw him once or twice since I left that school at the end of that school year. But, today I wonder how he was. Since I am off of the devil aka Facebook, I decided to Google him.  Surprisingly, I located some hits:

Derrika King had just graduated from Palm Beach Lakes High School’s law management program and was set to head to Orlando in the fall where she would attend Valencia Community College but as the result of a ride with a drunk driver King will never make it to Orlando. The 17-year old died just 12 days before her 18th birthday when Rashad Brewster jumped a median in his Nissan Maxima and hit a 1995 Toyota head-on resulting in King’s death. (read more)

Police believe Brewster was driving 80 MPH in a 35 MPH zone and when they were called to the scene of the accident they smelled alcohol on the driver’s breath and found a bottle of vodka in the car. Tests later showed Brewster’s blood alcohol level was .107 and .108 above the legal limit of .08 in Florida. Brewster was arrested in Palm Beach on DUI Manslaughter charges.


Shocked, I wonder was this the same Rashad I knew. The ages from another article matched up to how old he should have been. I went to the Palm Beach County Sheriff website just to be sure, there I located the alleged charges against him and his mug shot. It was indeed my Jordan wearing boyfriend of the 6th grade, minus the addition of facial hair he looks the same. He is currently out on bond awaiting his trail, according to his address on the site he lives less than 5 minutes from me.

The accident that took this young woman life was less than a couple hundred feet from the school we both attended. I have become so accustomed to being surrounded with peers and associates that went to college and are pursuing graduate degrees- that I forget that not everyone made it out.  Rashad and I were born in the same county four days apart, went to the same preschool and middle school, yet our lives at 23 are so vastly different. A reminder how easily my Black male peers can be swept in the lure and foolishness that is in our streets and how a Black woman on the right path one bad decision to ride with a drunk driver could end her life forever. I am sad that his life is forever altered, sad for his mother, the girl who died, her family and the community.

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Posted by on January 29, 2010 in crime, Florida


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When the village fails…

“I grew up with them boys, they don’t deserve to be in jail for all them years. She made it up, It never happen”. The young baby face boy who had only been in high school for a couple of weeks were referring to the crimes that occur summer 2007 in Dunbar Village, a housing project where he grew up and currently resides. The boys were his friends, people he had known all his life. The immigrant Haitian woman and child who lives were torn apart due to these boys were inconsequential in his world, the only meaning they have were that they were the ones who took his friends away. His statement resolves all guilt from the young men and their actions, while placing the blame solely on the victim. Swallowing hard I look deep into the eyes of this young man, who was the same age of some of the assailants of the crime who ages ranged from 13- 18 years old. Was I looking at somebody who could have possibly participated in these crimes? When hearing about the horrific crime that occurred in Dunbar Village and the number of assailants, one can’t help but wonder why didn’t any of the 10 males try and stop the crime or even turn themselves in? How can anyone be a part of the sadistic actions that were committed? Someone had to be a voice of reason; someone had to know that this was wrong and needed to be stopped. Perhaps the blame lay on the assailants intoxicated state or the momentum of the crime along with mob mentality. But this young man was sober and alone and didn’t see the guilt that lay in the young man’s hands.  This boy was has long reached the point in his life where he can differentiate between right and wrong. He has a mother, sister and according to him a girlfriend would he be ok with someone commenting the same atrocities on them. This boy who sees nothing wrong with a brutal attack on a woman and her child, only sympathizing with the assailants, he is sadly like so many in our community. When this story first broke, a certain level of disgust and outrage is expected from the residents of the community, but there was none instead there was anger from the news coverage of the crime. “So a lady was raped. Big deal,” resident Paticiea Matlock said with disgust. “There’s too much other crime happening here.” (AP, 2007) How a woman could declare the rape of another woman no big deal? How could she not feel for another human being that shared her same neighborhood? Where was the empathy for a fellow poor, black woman in America?

Dunbar Village is a neighbor jaded by experiences of poverty, crime, murder and rape. The stories of the people in this housing project are share a theme of hurt, betrayal and abandonment. Their voices and pain often overshadowed by the pretty beaches and bright Florida sun, angry because it takes a brutal rape for people in their city, state, country and world to know that they are there, that they are hurting. So they will stand and try to protect their boys and the name of their community because even if it means disregarding the pain inflicted on this poor Haitian immigrant woman and her son.

2 years later four of the ten men have been convicted of the crime, with more arrest still to come. Dunbar Village now has better security including a working gate and surveillance camera. Plans are under way to destroy the 60 year old housing complex in hopes to build a safer affordable housing community. Sadly the wounds are still present in the victim and the community has or will ever get over this crime. When there are a thousands of community similar to Dunbar Village, who residents lack the same access to opportunity, share in the epidemic of fatherless children, drugs and crime run rampant all making for the perfect conditions to create children to inflict this type of terror on their communities; What do you do to stop this from ever happening again. What is our responsibility in this? What are you going to do?

-Just Tab…but hopefully inciting just the change this world needs.

*I purposely didn’t go into the exact crimes that were committed in order not to glorified or inflict any more pain on this woman and her family than needed. For more information on the crimes you can visit*

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Posted by on September 12, 2009 in crime, Florida, politics, Rants


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