29 November 2007

Sean Taylor

I'm still pretty stunned about the death of yet another young Black man to pointless, stupid violence.

I'm a Redskins fan, and for the last few weeks my biggest concern was the fact that we've been playing so badly that we were going to miss the playoffs yet again. I was disgusted with The Great Joe Gibbs, I was disgusted with the play calling, I was disgusted with the poor execution I was seeing by a group of men that I was so loyal to. I was so disgusted with the Redskins that I refused to even watch their recent game against the Buccaneers. Then, Monday morning, suddenly everything took a back seat.

I was on the Internet at google.com checking headlines when "Redskin's Sean Taylor shot in home" popped up. I whispered, "Damn." and clicked on the story. "Okay, a leg wound. He should be okay," I foolishly thought. I followed the story all day online. All I kept hearing was "He's in a coma and in critical condition." I actually thought to myself on Monday night - He'll be fine. He'll be upgraded to serious in the morning and by Saturday there will be pictures of him smiling with doctors and nurses and signing autographs for sick kids in the children's ward. I assumed he'd miss the rest of the season and come back next pre-season as the Redskins Golden-Boy with smashing tackles and crazy interceptions." Yeah, he'll be fine.

Then Tuesday morning I turned on the radio next to the bed and they were talking about him in the past tense. "He was a talented player..." "He had this kind of spirit..." "He was well liked by..." And I thought, "Damn, why are they talking about him like he's dead. That's pretty thoughtless." With a knot forming in my stomach I went into the guest room and turned on the TV and there it was on channel 5, "Sean Taylor, 1983 - 2007" You could have knocked me over with a feather. I called to my wife, "Sean Taylor died!"

Just then my 3 year old son walked in, coincidentally wearing a Redskins jersey over his pajamas, and asked in a sleepy voice as he sat down next me, "Why did he die?"

What could I say?

I looked at him, then the TV, and then him again and I put my arm around him and said, "Because a very bad person hurt him. And that's why he died." My son looked satisfied with my answer. I don't believe he fully grasps the concept of death and dying, and I guess at this point that is kind of a good thing - maybe.

I'm just stunned.

The police are saying that right now his shooting looks random, but I believe that like I believe George Bush is a good president. I think that is a police ploy to capture the shooter. I don't believe this was a random crime. I'm confident that the person [or persons] that did this knew that was Sean Taylor's home, I'm confident they knew he was home, and I'm confident that he was a target for whatever reason. I think if someone just wanted to steal something, they wouldn't break into a bedroom and start shooting - they would avoid contact and flee. Or if they were startled they would run and just start shooting blindly during their excape. I'm sure that Sean's killer knew him and knew he was home. I truly hope that they bring him to justice!

I was so pissed off over the 'Skins not making the playoffs this year that I had vowed not to watch another single game. Now I can hardly give a damn. I feel for those guys. I feel for the whole organization. Football is just a game, a sport - life is REAL. Life is joy and strength and faith and happiness and pain and sorrow. Life is real and life is what is important. I'm ashamed that I had forgotten that on Sunday afternoons.


19 November 2007

Nation's Capital or Murder Capital?

A few nights ago in Washington DC, a young man named Timothy Spicer was getting into his car at a metro station when he was car jacked.
It wasn't enough that some thug wanted to steal his car, but they shot him three times and left him to die, which unfortunately he did a short time later. Then this same ruthless animal took his car, drove it for a few hours and then abandoned it in south-east DC. This savage hoodlum, KILLED a man, KILLED a father in cold blood for what? For a joyride? To get to his girlfriend's of his mama's house a little faster than a cab or a bus? Actually, it doesn't really matter. No reason is justifiable.
Of course, now almost everyone in DC is asking, "What can police chief Cathy Lanier do to solve the high murder rates in the district? What can police chief Cathy Lanier do to stop the violence in the streets?"
My question is, "What is DC going to do to stop the violence and the murders?"
I always hear around DC what is the POLICE CHIEF going to do? And, I'm always amazed. There is NO magic solution that the police chief is hiding or holding onto that is going to make these knuckleheads, hoodlums, thugs and monsters stop robbing, raping and killing innocent people. The police chief just can't reach into his or her [now "HER", but not too long ago "HIS"] pocket and pull out a substance that will make these people go away or at least stop being criminals.
All a police chief can really do is strategically move and allocate manpower to try and put band-aids on gunshot wounds [no pun intended] around the city. A chief can also try to maintain a system of post crime investigation that truly hunts and fully prosecutes criminals.
But, neither of these are REALLY and TRULY going to stop the vast majority of murders and violent crimes. Sure, they'll stop a few, but the bulk of crimes will continue. I think in DC there are probably over 1000 city blocks of varying sizes. Considering that you would need between 1 and 7 officers on foot patrol, shifts a day, almost 24 hours a day, for weeks, months and years to really make a big dent in the DC murder rate and frankly, DC doesn't have the manpower or the budget for such foolishness. Then when it comes to post crime follow up, the DC police constantly run into the 50 people standing over the body that "didn't see nuffin'. " It is truly a lose-lose situation for those who think the police chief is the savior.
It all comes down to simply one thing - if person A wants to kill person B for any reason... drugs, money, love, hate, whatever - there is a good chance that person B is going to be in the morgue in a very short time. DC is a city with tough, though useless, gun laws and getting a gun is not hard to do if you know the right people or can hop across the border into northern Virginia or central Maryland. Person A can get the equipment they need to slaughter person B and the police chief and police department can do little to stop it.
There are really only a few ways to stop the violence and murder in DC, some are legal - though not politically desirable and still others are illegal and unfavorable and yet highly effective.
-I think one solution to the crime rate would to be a massive overhauling of the public education system. The schools have to truly teach the children and teach them well. The teachers have to be talented and highly motivated [and yes, highly paid and highly recruited] and they must be supported by the parents! The parents are vital to children that become strong learners. It is only through solid learning that the young people can grow up to have options in their lives. With a school system that is just barely making it, kids just get pushed through and when they come out at 18 or 19, they are not prepared to find truly gainful employment. And these young people become very susceptible to the call of the violent and hungry streets. YOUNG PEOPLE MUST BE EDUCATED!
-The district of Columbia must also, constantly, seek to bring new business and industry to within its city limits. Young people must have job opportunities that will allow them to have comfortable and productive lives. I'm not knocking fast-food jobs, but before young people are drawn into the street life, they must be given professional and intellectual options to bring out the best in them, without that opportunity they will see no self-worth and will feel that being a thug or a "baby mama" is all they are good for. YOUNG PEOPLE MUST BE EMPLOYED!
-Lastly, law enforcement has to GET THE GUNS. I have no proof of what I am about to say, but in a city where civilian ownership of a firearm is illegal, I am willing to bet that there are easily 10,000 illegal guns inside the city limits. The gun violence is too high and there have been too many shootings and murders in the last 15 years to believe that there are less than 10,000 guns. Now, this is where it gets tricky. You can't just say, "Okay, everybody turn in your guns." That might get you a few hundred, and those will be 50 year old relics from law abiding citizens that didn't know what to do with Grandpa's old pistol from WWII. Police need to get out on the streets and do something akin to random spot-checks. YES, I KNOW that violates the 4th Amendment, and there is part of the problem. It's illegal. But when I was a kid in Baltimore, my buddies and I seemed to always be getting stopped by the cops and frisked. They'd mumble something like, "Oh, a lady was mugged up the street and she said a Black kid did it." While we never knew when this was true and when it wasn't, typically in my neighborhood - if someone robbed someone - it was a Black kid. Yeah, that is sad, but it is true and I'd be lying or bullsh*tting if I claimed otherwise. But, a big deterrent to gun violence would be the danger of being caught at random in a police search and facing stiff jail time. The bonus would be dozens of guns coming off the streets almost every day. While this is very unsavory to think about - it would work. Then as Black people, we have to decide whether we want our young Black men to have hurt feelings or to have bullet wounds.
All this ranting and it still seems like a lose-lose to me. I hope I'm wrong.