September 21, 2013

300 Partying Teens Destroyed Home. (A Remarkable Study in Forgiveness.) ~ Kristina Peterson

An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.

Former NFL player Brian Holloway was in Florida on August 31, 2013 when his son alerted him to a disturbing event playing out live on Twitter. Approximately 300 teenagers from the local Stephentown, New York area were destroying their family home. And posting play by play photos of the destruction on social media. Drugs and Alcohol were rampant. Tweets about “ruffies” and “blunts” were coming in fast & furious.

Police were alerted and dispatched to the party, but it was too late. Over $20, 000 of damage was done. Priceless souvenirs of Holloway’s career with the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Raiders, as well as souvenirs of the many dignitaries and guests who had visited the property over the years were gone. Rosa Parks was a regular family visitor.

Worst of all, a carved stone eagle that was part of a memorial to Holloway’s deceased grandson, Dyanni, was stolen. A picture of the perpetrator holding the eagle made the rounds on social media. (It has since been returned.)

What did Holloway do?

He started a website to identify the 300 perpetrators. Not to punish them, but to help save them, to hopefully intervene early enough to prevent a lifetime of drug & alcohol addiction. He posted the photos and tweets and asked the community to come together to change how kids view partying.  He asked the community to consider a form of restorative justice, so he doesn’t have to press charges but justice can still be served in a productive way.

On his website, he says:

“I wish I had the ability to have a one on one conversation with each of you. Or at least, chat at Garner’s,  or maybe even on the sideline at Berlin soccer games, or at the post office or maybe even Pizza Plus;  but I can’t;  so my only option was try to reach you by using the web.

So my apologies, I don’t really know what else to do. It’s been quite a gut shot dealing with all of this. I guess I’m still in shock.

But I want to [put] aside the very strong emotions I’m feeling and focus on the one thing that is extremely clear. The lives of these 300 students. I want them to live.

I’ve seen too many young people die because of excessing partying, drugs and alcohol.”

He is not a rich man, he was never a high profile quarterback, he has 8 children, and he’s beset by injuries suffered from his NFL career with no health insurance.

But he is not asking for restitution or donations. He is asking that the kids responsible own up to their crime and pay off their debt by cleaning up & repairing the house and helping out at the many “Thank You For Your Service” social events he holds for military personnel. Oh, and if someone wants to send money, he’s asking it be sent to the American Cancer Society for the fight against breast cancer.

Some of the parents of the guilty teenagers are threatening to sue Brian Holloway for “outing” their teens by posting their tweets and photos pulled from social media on his website. According to the New York Post, the parents claim he is “ruining the child’s chance of getting into college.”

That hasn’t stopped him. He’s still choosing to turn this tragic event into a movement for positive change.

Would we all be so forgiving?


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Ed: Catherine Monkman

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