A Buffalo teenager who spent 10 hours cleaning up glass and garbage following protests in his city, has received a car, full college scholarship and job offer from the mayor.
Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Antonio Gwynn Jr. had attended a peaceful protest earlier on May 30, but after he went home it turned into a night of unrest.
Gwynn set about cleaning up at 2am on June 1, hours before others arrived with the same intention, then pictures taken by a stranger went viral on social media and locals began to reward the 18-year-old for his selfless efforts.
‘I felt disgusted. My nerves were bad. They’re destroying a city that could actually be very beautiful,’ Gwynn told ABC 7.
Antonio Gwynn Jr., 18, has been offered a car, college scholarship, and job with the City of Buffalo after he was seen cleaning up after rioting
Gwynn Jr. set about cleaning up on June 1 at 2am, hours before others arrived at 10am with the same intention
Mayor Byron Brown offered him a job in the city’s buildings department and encouraged other leaders to do the same for young African Americans
He used a UHaul truck from recently moving into a house he’s renting from his aunt, to tackle a large area before people started heading to work.
‘I went bought some trash bags, grabbed my broom and my dustpan and I just started. It was just me by myself. I just started riding up and down Bailey (Street) to see where stuff was destroyed so I can clean it up.’
Gwynn was still cleaning at 10am when Kalah Bishop arrived with a group of volunteers.
‘To know that an 18-year-old had it in his heart to come out here at 2 in the morning and clean up…and to be honest, he kind of risked his life to do it. That’s amazing,’ Bishop told ABC 7.
‘A lot of people should take insight on him doing that and be more like Antonio.’
Gwynn’s mother died from a heart attack in 2018 and his sister went to live with their grandmother.
Duane Thomas, 37, a pastor and youth leader at the Change Church, took in Gwynn on the condition that he does his homework and cleans the dishes.
Matt Block was in the process of selling his 2004 red Mustang (pictured) but decided to give it to Gwynn after he saw the teen’s good deed. It’s the same model, year and color his late mother got for him
Sweet Buffalo offered Gwynn $1,000 after seeing the images of him cleaning and a GoFundMe page raised $5,800 after the pictures went viral
‘I wanted to clean because I’m always cleaning at my house, so why can’t I just help the city stay clean?’ Gwynn explained to the Washington Post.
‘It’s something that she would do probably because I mainly try to be just like her or something similar because I don’t want to be a follower. I want to lead sometimes also.’
The day after he cleaned he started receiving thank you messages. Nicole Hopkins originally shared the images of his good deed and told followers: ‘If we can pay for his books, a Mac Book, or at least one semester of college for this brave young man, his generosity and kindness will be the change we wish to see in the world.’
Local good news website Sweet Buffalo began by sending a $1,000 and encouraging others to donate.
A GoFundMe account brought in more than $5,800.
Gwynn said he didn’t clean up for attention.
His guardian Thomas explained to the Washington Post: ‘Our church used to be on Bailey Avenue, right across the street where all of the mayhem went down.
‘So I know that Antonio was thinking of that. He was grateful to have a place to live, and now he wanted to look after somebody else. That’s just the kind of kid he is. He’s always been a peaceful person, wanting to see that others are taken care of.’
Duane Thomas, 37, (left) a pastor and youth leader at the Change Church, took in Gwynn (right) after his mother died in 2018 on the condition that he does his homework and cleans the dishes. ‘I wanted to clean because I’m always cleaning at my house, so why can’t I just help the city stay clean?’ Gwynn explained
The good deed caught the attention of Matt Block, who was in the process of selling his 2004 red Mustang but decided to give it to Gwynn instead.
Briceland Insurance Agency owner Bob Briceland is covering Gwynn’s insurance for one year.
It turned out the vehicle was the exact model, year and color his late mother first got him.
‘The car he sent me a picture of was the same exact car that my mom first got me. It’s the same color, same everything,’ Gwynn said.
Then private school Medaille College offered the Hutchinson Central Technical High School senior a full four-year scholarship. Gywnn wants to take business classes and open his own mechanic shop and a cleaning business one day.
When he found out, Gwynn started crying. He says his great-aunt and cousin cried too.
Gwynn originally planned to go to trade school and save up for college.
Following Gwynn’s good deed, Buffalo has received lots of attention after riot police were seen pushing a 75-year-old man to the ground and leaving him to bleed from the ears. He has not suffered brain damage.
‘Violence is pointless. It doesn’t help anything, and it doesn’t change anything,’ Gwynn commented to the Washington Post. ‘I was happy to help out, and I’m really surprised by the attention. I’m just really grateful for everybody’s support.’
On Saturday, Mayor Byron Brown offered him a job in the city’s buildings department.
Brown said in a tweet that Gwynn has agreed to take the job upon his graduation.
‘As part of my #ReformAgenda, I am calling on other local governments, businesses and organizations to set a goal to hire more black people as the global movement for real racial justice and equity continues,’ Mayor Brown tweeted.
Private school Medaille College offered the Hutchinson Central Technical High School senior a full four-year scholarship. Gywnn wants to take business classes and open his own mechanic shop and a cleaning business one day