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Diatribe: Deaf Man Stabbed When Sign Language Was Mistaken For Gang Signs.

01/14/2013
Robert Jarell Neal, 22

Robert Jarell Neal, 22, can’t tell gang signs from ASL.

When I was in college, I had a deaf friend.  He was a super nice guy, really smart, and always had a smile on his face.  He was dating a friend of mine and we spent quite a bit of time together.  My friend would translate for us because I didn’t know sign language and, try as I might, I couldn’t learn it.  If he and I were alone, we had to write notes and pass them back and forth.

One afternoon, I was home alone resting in front of the television when there was a knock on my door.  “Come in.” I responded.  Then there was another load knock.  “Come in!” I shouted “It’s unlocked.”  After the third knock, a really loud pounding, I got up from the sofa and went to the door to see who was there.  It was my deaf friend … he hadn’t heard me shouting so he didn’t let himself in.  We had a good laugh as he rapidly signed in excitement that he, too, thought the situation was funny.

I didn’t understand a thing that he was trying to tell me but I wasn’t threatened in any way.

A deaf man in North Carolina was recently stabbed several times after his sign language was mistaken for gang signs by another man.  Forty-five-year-old Terrance Ervin Daniels was using sign language with another deaf man last Wednesday when a third person saw them, thought they were flashing gang signs and stabbed Daniels with a kitchen knife.

A neighbor witnessed the attack and called for help.  Robert Jarell Neal, 22, was quickly arrested.  He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury and assaulting a handicapped person.  Neal is being held in the Alamance County jail.

Daniels is recovering at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill.

I don’t know anything about gang signs but I’d like to think that I’d be able to distinguish between something like that and American Sign Language.

Would you be able to tell the difference between gang signs and sign language?

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12 Comments
  1. I’d like to think we live in a world where people don’t get stabbed for making signs with their hands.

    Like

  2. Was the stabber a member of a rival gang or just someone who goes around stabbing gangsta’s?

    What a world! What a world!

    Like

  3. This seems to be the norm in America. If you are treated with perceived disrepect, then the other has to die. I realize this was with a knife, but this is a key reason why we lead the civilized world in gun deaths.Thanks for sharing, BTG

    Like

  4. It gets crazier and crazier in this country. I can’t stand it.

    Like

  5. I am becoming convinced that enough of us are regressing that the world has become a very dangerous place.

    What a maroon.

    Like

  6. I’d like to think I know the difference. My daughter worked for a while as a sign language interpreter. However, I’m fortunate enough to live where I’ve never been exposed to *gang signs*.

    Like

  7. If this guy thought this was a threat why didn’t he just call the police? Why would he try to handle this on his own?

    Like

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