The photos DO NOT show Joe Meeks or Kyreon Watkins.
Prior to being locked up in Anoka County on charges of assault, prior to being indicted by a grand jury for allegedly gunning down 13-year-old Rayjon Gomez, a crime that went too long unsolved, Donquarius Copeland (middle, above) spent some time at a privately-managed facility that deals with troubled juveniles.
I will simply refer to the place as "The Facility." It's not in the Twin Cities...
My inside source, who I am not naming, was associated with The Facility and had occasion to observe and interact with Donquarius Copeland ("DQ") during Copeland's time there.
Given the fact Copeland is accused of a notorious murder, given the fact I have this insider information of extreme interest to my audience, given the fact I have talked to my source quite a bit, done some checking, and satisfied myself as to the veracity of this info (most important) and the motivations of my source (important, but not THAT important) I have decided to go ahead and publish what I have.
While certain records of juveniles may be legally inaccessible to journalists and other interested parties, records laws of that nature should not be confused with First Amendment right of journalists to public truthful information, even about juveniles, which falls into their hands from sources.
"BD DQ YnT" On Facebook
As this blog previously reported, Donquarius Copeland is "BD DQ YnT" on Facebook, and, incredibly, started up his FB profile on the same day Rayjon "Lil Bow Wow" Gomez was murdered. Click here for exclusive article on that, and also click here.
Just prior to the murder, Copeland was at The Facility. According my source, when Copeland was about ready to leave, he planned to live with his mother. His mother did not have a computer. Several other kids at The Facility had told Copeland, hey, when you get out of here, look me up on Facebook! Copeland said he would.
My source was "not shocked" to hear DQ is charged with this murder. DQ "went through the program quickly" at The Facility, reportedly "faked it to make it" in the manner of a lot of the youth who are in the program.
Copeland played on The Facility's basketball team and was very good. The team plays other teams around the area, just like a regular school basketball team.
A couple of months before being released, Copeland got into a physical altercation with another juvenile at The Facility named Joseph Rudolph Meeks. This fight was unusual for two different reasons. First of all, Copeland and Meeks were like brothers. They had grown up together and been through a lot together on the streets.
Second, after the fight was over, NOBODY would say what the fight was about, including Copeland and Meeks. Usually, if participants in the program at The Facility will talk about the issues and feelings underlying a physical altercation, their punishment is lessened. But in this case, both participants were punished severely because they wouldn't talk. This happened right before Copeland was released.
However, staff at The Facility were able to piece together a story. Supposedly DQ either "flipped" gangs or went to "a different part" of the same gang. And Joe Meeks, who was a "higher up" member of the gang, beat DQ. Supposedly. It was tough for staff to figure out what was really happening with ANY of the kids. More on THAT later.
The Three Amigos
Donquarius "DQ" Copeland was closely associated with two other juveniles. Joseph Rudolph Meeks, known as "Joe Meeks," and Ky'reon Watkins, who is currently 16 going on 17. These three were so close my source described them as being like the three musketeers or the three amigos.
Joe Meeks had been raised by his maternal grandmother because his parents had lost their parental rights. Meeks is believed to be currently locked up in a juvenile facility in Red Wing, Minnesota. Meeks was kicked out of The Facility and sent to Red Wing because of an assault incident.
When Donquarius was charged with murder, Joe Meeks was still at The Facility. Meeks' only reaction was to freeze and then say something like, "For real? He gonna get charged with murder?"
Kryreon Watkins (who spells his first name with an apostrophe, but this blog will not engage in that ridiculous practice) was 16 going on 17, and has spent time in the juvenile system because of being charged with attempted murder. My source is clear and emphatic about the fact Watkins was charged with attempted murder, but has been unable to link the incident with news coverage of the event. Reportedly, the event was a "graduation party" of some sort in North Minneapolis.
I pointed out to my source that mere ATTEMPTED murder may not merit news coverage in my neighborhood, where only "lucky bullets resulting in actual death" seem to merit extended news coverage. My source thinks that's pretty messed up. I'd have to agree.
Watkins was in a juvenile program called Bar None around the same time Rayjon Gomez would have been in the program. (My source writes this out casually in an email but, to me, even the fact Rayjon Gomez WAS in a juvenile offender program called "Bar None" is an interesting piece of news all by itself) Watkins was actually enrolled in the Bar None program but out for the weekend on a "home pass" when the attempted murder took place that Watkins was accused of. Watkins always denied involvement. He was almost done with the program, so why would he do THAT? But reportedly "several witnesses" identified Watkins as the shooter.
Donquarius Copeland Was "A Big Baby"
My source describes Copeland as having a "big baby" personality and my source says this was intended to be accurately descriptive, not disrespectful. Copeland would get into numerous arguments, get frustrated, and then cry. This happened frequently. Commenting on Copeland crying all the time, Joe Meeks once said something like, "Oh, yeah, he like that in the streets, too, crying about everything. He'd get mad and cry in the back of the stolen car saying 'I was gonna roll that blunt, it's my turn.'"
Copeland was reportedly "private" about his home life, but staff were all aware Copeland was either present when his father was killed or there shortly after. Copeland excelled in The Facility's school program but, notes my source, "It was not the caliber of normal high schools."
Flaws In The Juvenile Reform System
My source contacted me not to gossip, not for the thrill of seeing his/her information on a blog, but because of a deeply-held belief the juvenile reform system is failing. The failures identified by my source (who sees it better than most people ever will) center upon two issues:
1.) Kids from the same area, the same social circles, the same gang rivalries, are locked up with each other. This only deepens their connection, which was negative in the first place.
2.) Kids get information from the streets by phone calls and letters. In this way, they "stay involved with the streets" while not actually there, and then come right back to the streets. The systems in place to allow these kids to communicate with their relatives are abused in a variety of ways, some quite creative.
As draconian as it sounds, my source would like to see somebody try a reform model that involves NO COMMUNICATION WITH THE OUTSIDE and see if that succeeds, because the system now in place is a dramatic failure.
"We're just getting paid to house them, basically," says my source, who is in deep ethical disagreement with the current system.
As to the first point, kids who know each other being in juvenile together, it speaks for itself. My source notes there simply aren't enough beds available. I tell my source we should send them to "Alaska" or other challenging environments and (I will add here) let them live in tents made out of parachutes, let them build a fire with wood shavings and a magnifying glass, let them cook the bones of a caribou that has been stripped by wolves and bang the bones with a rock to suck out the marrow.
As to the second point, the abuses of the communication system, my source says kids write letters in that thuggy street slang that's so hard to read, and receive letters the same way. Overtly criminal and gang oriented messages are censored by staff (going through all the correspondence is ridiculously time consuming) but messages slip through, anyway. For example, "I'm going to lock my hair back and I think you should do the same" is not a message about hair. It means, "I'm going to be defiant, all the time, and fight with the staff here in (for example) Red Wing and you should do the same at (wherever)." But to the staff member who let the message through, it was a message about suggesting matching hair styles.
Incredibly, letters pass back and forth from kids in one juvenile facility to another. If my source had their way, no letters would pass back and forth in this way. And yet kids sit and write volumes of letters, all in that thuggy street style. My source says they actually know how to write in fairly standard English, but "thug style" is "like a personality they can put on and take off when they like."
As for phone calls, the kids are supposed to talk only to close relatives. This gets abused two ways: First, individuals who are not close relatives have access to the "verification information," and simply impersonate the relative, often with the relative's cooperation. Or the relative gets on the phone for a while, then hands the phone over to somebody else. Or the relatives, themselves, pass information on behalf of others. You'd think a mother or a father would want their child to be reformed. You'd be wrong if you thought that. Many of the parents are deeply involved in the streets themselves and bringing up their children in that kind of life.
Gopher Apparel May Mean Vice Lord Affiliation
Kids at "The Facility" who wear U of M "golden gopher" apparel do this to "separate themselves" as members of YnT. (Young And Thugging)
YnT is part of the "People Nation." There is another group called "Folk Nation" that wears "TC" logo and apparel. My source says a lot of the youth who are YnT are affiliated with Vice Lord gangs. The Vice Lords would like to take control of "marijuana and other drug markets" in North Minneapolis but are not the dominant gang. Copeland reportedly "ran with" a group on the Lowry and Lyndale area.
While at The Facility, Copeland had no visitors except his PO. (Parole Officer) My source has no memory of Copeland making contact with attorney Bobby Joe Champion and believes this didn't happen until after Copeland left The Facility.
12 Years Old And "Strapped," It's Just Sad
My source doesn't live in North Minneapolis but gets up here sometimes due to the nature of his/her work. Once, while waiting in line in a gas station, she overheard a cute little 12-year-old boy tell his friend he was "strapped." (Carrying a pistol) My source would like to make the lives of juveniles better, but feels like the system is stuck in low gear.
My source is emphatic that kids hanging from the same area being incarcerated together, the rampant abuse of the communication systems, these are the primary way the system fails. Contacting a blogger in the course of a red hot murder case might be a way to get a useful conversation going about how to reform the system that is, itself, supposed to reform.