Snitch

Deanna Johnson testified against a murderer to save her son. But in the projects, truth comes at a price.

The plan was not negotiable. Police would escort her to Double Rock, where she would have ten minutes to collect her belongings. Then they would take her somewhere far away. She was not to return to San Francisco under any circumstances. She was not to tell anyone where she was.

The investigators handed her a pen.

Before Deanna could pick up her things, there was one additional stop. District Attorney Kamala Harris wanted to meet this brave woman in the flesh.

Officers led Deanna to Harris' office, where she was welcomed with a warm smile. Harris told Deanna how proud she was. How she wished there were more people like her who would stand up and do the right thing. Harris even gave her a housewarming gift — a large vase of white flowers Deanna didn't recognize. They looked like roses.

None of it made much of an impression on Deanna. They were nice flowers, but she had no home to put them in. As police guided her out of the office, she looked around. Everybody in this office will go home tonight, she thought. Meanwhile, she was going to a hotel. "I was feeling like my world was taken out from under me," she said. "Me and my son."

As police escorted her to an unmarked car in the basement, Deanna began to feel dizzy. "It was like a dream," she said. "Like it wasn't really happening."

When she arrived at her home, she noticed a number of black-and-white police cars. Officers were stationed at her front and back doors. She could swear there were more cops around her home than the day Tigaboo got killed. Her 17-year-old son, Dominic, still in his red 49ers pajamas, had gotten scared and sneaked out the back door.

Deanna called him back to give him the news. "My son was in tears," she said later. "He didn't understand what was going on. He didn't want to be yanked out of his room. It was like I was in another world from that time on."

Deanna grabbed a few changes of clothes and some toiletries, and said goodbye to everything she knew, including Nina the pit bull. In all the chaos, she had forgotten to ask whether the D.A. would help her find a temporary home for the dog. Turns out, they wouldn't. After the movers emptied 6 Double Rock, the dog remained in the vacant home until a friend from the methadone clinic agreed to take her, but wasn't sure he'd be willing to give her back. Two days later, he walked Nina off-leash and she got in a fight with another dog. Nina is now quarantined at the SPCA.

Aside from losing her dog, Deanna was rushed out of the life she had become comfortable with, and in the most embarrassing way she could imagine. "The whole neighborhood watched from across the street as me and my son put our belongings in the trunk of the police vehicle," she said. "It was awful. I wished I could just wiggle my nose and vanish."

As she got into the car, Deanna noticed a woman across the way, hanging her laundry on the line. The woman looked content. "I wished that was me," she says.

Since the day of Junk's conviction, Deanna has been staying at a faraway hotel with Dominic, who is "bored shitless." For nearly a week, Deanna was broke, and the District Attorney's office refused to give her cash. Just vouchers for food at Safeway. Deanna thinks it's because they didn't want her to have a way to get back to San Francisco.

She'll be looking for a home in which the District Attorney's office will put her up in for one year. Over that time, she plans to save as much money as possible and try to be a good provider for her sons.

As for Damian, he's in hiding. Deanna doesn't know when she will see him again, and worries constantly. She heard that her son is considered to be a snitch.

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