Dying for a Helly Hansen (Demo)

Great story at WUSA9 on the murder of 18 year old Olijawon Griffin, who was stabbed to death after being robbed of his Helly Hansen jacket.  Local business owners and cousins, Dawn Lyles and Steve Coates, of U First Fashion were interviewed and had this to say of the rise in popularity of Helly Hansen coats,  “They like the colors, they like the fact that it says “HH,” and it’s just different,” said Lyles.  Coates says the coats cost between $100 and $280, and teens can’t get enough. “We get three or four calls a day about coats that we don’t have, and the sad part about it is, it’s getting hard to get. What changed is the economy changed, so not just for Helly they’re robbing for, they’re robbing for anything,” he said.  Mr. Coates went on to say that their business even offers some teens jobs and layaway plans so they can have the coats and not have to steal one.

Owners of U First Fashion
Owners of U First Fashion

I’m not going to pretend that nothing like this ever took place during “my day.”  We were the first generation to popularize Nike and Addidas via the hip-hop and go-go movement.  I struggled to purchase as many pairs of athletic shoes as my part-time paycheck would buy.  If I saw someone with better shoes than mine or with some  that I admired, it gave me ideas as to what to buy next.  I didn’t hatch a plot to stab the shoe owner and later don their gear.  My question is: where is the disconnect?  The Helly Hansen jackets are made for the harshest of winter elements, endorsed by skiing professionals, Danish mountaineers and the like.  For our generation, it was Timerberland Boots.  Another product designed to weather extreme conditions.  In both cases, it was fashion and not function that brought these items to the attention of both my generation and this current one.  But it is this generation that is bombarded with images and audio from commercial artists who live to brag on what they have purchased and who they have conquered.  My question is still: where is the disconnect? 
Chavez Myers, Immanuel Swann, Deon Jefferson and Gary Maye, who are all 17-year-olds, have been charged as adults in connection with Olijawon Griffin‘s Nov. 15th death.  No one will get to wear the jacket now.   See the story below and weigh in.  I don’t have the answers.  I would like to see the school records and know about the families that raised these children.  Even Olijawon Griffin, the victim, made some poor choices in that he approached this group of boys in hopes of purchasing weed.  Where is the disconnect between our youth, commercial imagery, repercussions, and the reality of death?


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