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A new heart but no change of heart for Anthony Stokes

By Walter Geiger The story – some would say ‘˜sad story’ – of 17-yearold gangbanger Anthony Stokes came to an end last week. He would have been just another carjacking dope dealer on the cooling table at the morgue had he not needed a new heart a few years back. Stokes showed up at Children’s Health Care of Atlanta with a severe heart issue. He needed a heart transplant. He arrived for testing affixed with an ankle monitor a juvenile court judge had ordered he wear due to his criminal past. Juvenile court is full of gangbangers and thugs just like Stokes. One of the great travesties of Georgia law and that of other states is that the public has no access to juvenile records. The victims of juvenile offenders very rarely get a fair shake in juvenile court. They certainly don’t get all the information they should get about the young criminals who victimize them. This law is just waiting for one really good test case and it will be history and juvenile records will be open to the public forever as they should be. In that he arrived at the hospital with said ankle monitor affixed, Stokes was, at first, denied a listing on the heart transplant list. The medical folks said he was unlikely to adhere to the strict lifestyle changes required of him in order that his body not reject the donated heart. Antirejection meds are not on the long list of drugs of choice of the gangster set. His mom protested. She went to the media. Anthony was portrayed as a troubled, less fortunate and yes, black, teen being raised by a single mom. This was stated as if ‘˜crackers’ at the hospital had intentionally run his dad out of the house. It was a public relations nightmare for the hospital which, rather than being labeled racist, moved the gangbanger to the top of its transplant list. He got his $650,000 surgery free within two weeks. The normal wait is 10 months. In the interim, the mother got Stokes a mentor to help him. Once the new heart was in place, the mentor was dismissed and the mother dropped out of sight. The mentor, too, was just a PR move. Despite his new, donated heart, the gangbanger had no change of heart. He racked up 11 arrests in Dekalb County alone. He stole a woman’s car. She called for police and he was arrested with two guns in the vehicle. He threatened her at the scene, screaming, ‘I’m gonna f___ you up’. She lived in fear until last week. That’s when the gangbanger forced his way into the home of another elderly woman, firing at least one shot at her. He missed as gangsters, thankfully, most often do. On the run, he stole another woman’s car and fled from police. He hit a pedestrian before crashing into a sign at a high rate of speed. His donated heart and his life of crime stopped forever. He was 17 years old and still wearing the ankle monitor that worried the folks at the hospital to begin with. Yes, ankle monitors are pretty much useless but, if you are among the minority that pay taxes, you pay for a hell of a lot of them. But that is another column. Our colleagues at the Atlanta Journal Constitution did an excellent job covering this story. It would have been a much bigger event had it not occurred the same week as the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial which grew out of the AJC’s investigative reporting and the convictions stemming from it will send a dozen ‘˜educators’ to prison for falsifying test scores to increase their personal salary bonuses. I know the AJC folks were busy with all this but I wish they had traced the criminal history of the gangbanger’s mom and his dad, if anyone happens to know who he is. I bet there are extensive criminal histories on record for both of them. I just hope there was no deserving recipient out there for whom the heart the gangbanger got was suitable. If that patient existed and has since died, are not the gangbanger’s mother, her supporters and those at the hospital at least somewhat complicit in that death? I think they are. What do you think? Gangbangers like Stokes are plentiful right here at home. They want what you have, don’t want to work for it and are very willing to kill you in the process of acquiring your lifestyle. Read more about that in this week’s edition of your hometown newspaper. You won’t read it anywhere else!

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