“Those people…”

There’s an article in today’s local paper that  summarizes the fact that here in St. Louis, four children have been killed in the past four days as the result of gun violence.

Read it again.

Four children.

Four days.

All dead.

I read the article, of course, because it disturbs me when anybody is killed, but especially the most vulnerable among us, like kids.

The four dead aren’t even the only kids who suffered from gun injuries during this time, sadly.

One of the kids was only three. Her and some of the neighborhood kids had gathered to eat some pizza when a white car drove by and somebody fired shots into the group. She was with a six year old girl who was also shot, but didn’t die.

She’s critically injured.

She’s six.

A thirteen year old boy was shot in his hand here on the South Side as well, but that’s not newsworthy at this point. I only know about it because I’m familiar with the case through work. I guess we can take solace in the fact that his shooting isn’t random. The boy is allegedly in a gang, and was probably shot by rival gang members.

Still, he’s thirteen and in a gang.

Why?

My fifteen year old asked me yesterday if I would take her to a local state park to ride bikes on some trails with her thirteen year old neighbor friend.

We did that, along with her eight year old brother and then had sno-cones afterwards.

It was a great night.

That’s what kids should be doing, riding bikes and eating sno-cones.

Why aren’t so many kids in St. Louis City riding bikes for fun and having sno-cones with their parents?

Why are so many running around armed with guns?

Why are so many kids being gunned down, especially kids minding their own business like this three year old girl?

I can’t answer those questions, but I can wonder why we as a society don’t seem to care.

As I read the article on the four dead kids over the past four days, I was drawn to the side of the screen, which was showing the most popular articles on the news site.

Here they are, to the right:

PD

A college cheerleading coach was fired and a lot of St. Louis Blues information.

A cheerleading coach being fired is news??

I get that we’re all pretty excited locally to have the Blues in a game seven for the Stanley Cup Finals, but damn, we’re talking about kids.

Babies even.

Look at the face of this baby girl, and explain to me how we can’t do better?

JT

The wording above the pictures is from a friend of mine, a police officer.

A police officer who had to see this little girl’s dead body along with a six year old with critical gunshot injuries and a group of distraught family members.

The images hit him and other cops on that scene hard, because why wouldn’t it?

It should, and it does.

Dead kids matter like hell to police officers, and I have no doubt that our already busy Homicide Unit will do all they can to solve these crimes, but why isn’t there more outrage outside of law enforcement?

Have we become so morbidly jaded that this is an acceptable status quo?

Is it because the four dead kids are named Myiesha, Charnija, Kennedi and Jashon?

Yes, all four dead kids are black.

They all live in the city.

Does that matter?

This violence seems to have become a “those people” problem.

The people who can do anything about this madness, like elected officials, judges, etc. don’t have enough of a dog in this fight.

They can watch the news from their nice homes and shake their heads that another one of “those people” is dead from a violent encounter.

Four gunned down white kids on four consecutive nights in the county or even here in the city would be big news. I don’t have any doubts about that at all.

Why is this any different?

Urban gun violence has become ubiquitous. It’s odd, and even surprising, when the city goes any period of days without a gunshot victim.

What do we do to stop this nonsense?

The police will be expected to do something about this, ultimately, but while we’re currently undermanned and outgunned, the powers that be are removing officers from the streets for social media posts, or hiding them in administrative positions while the Circuit Attorney’s Office drags its feet on deciding whether to charge some officers with trumped up crimes or puts them on “lists” that make them virtually useless in prosecuting violent offenders.

There are very few violent offenders in the city who haven’t been arrested before.

There is little more frustrating to police officers than seeing these people not prosecuted or released for reasons that boggle the mind.

Nobody holds the prosecutors or judges or even defense attorneys responsible for the continuing cycle of violence.

Nope, it’s the police who take the brunt of the blame, when there’s blame to be had.

They want violence quelled, but don’t want us to hurt anybody while doing it.

They don’t understand that there are terrible people in this world doing terrible things who don’t want to go to jail voluntarily.

Maybe if more of the folks who aren’t “those people” had to show up on gruesome, terrible scenes, or deal everyday with violent offenders smug in the knowledge that there’s a good chance they’ll be out soon enough to offend again, things would matter.

When things matter, things get done, but right now, it just doesn’t seem like what should matter most to all of us matters at all to enough of us.

Except maybe to “those people,” but “those people” don’t have the means or power to make the necessary changes. Too many of “those people” are busy grieving or trying to figure out how to make it through another day or feed their kids or find a way to move to a safer community.

There’s little time to commit to causes when life is such a struggle.

People who are trying to survive don’t really have time to live, not live like life is meant to be lived anyway.

It’s up to the rest of us to figure out how to help in a way that’s agreeable to the masses.

Does anybody care though?

Maybe after game seven, but until then, I’ll be sure to hold my breath that another of “those people” don’t lose a baby to senselesss violence.

 

 

 

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11 Responses to “Those people…”

  1. Mr. Simple says:

    I struggle, I struggle with every shot spotter, every shots fired called, and eventually an actual homicide scene I get. It is so common to hear it over the radio and think to myself, ” eh, maybe it’s a s*** head that died and STL will be a bit more safer tonight.

    I cant chase these people down so long as they flee in a car that does not meet our chase criteria. Finding these jokers on foot is difficult when they hangout in the middle of a block and see our vehicles coming a mile away.

    There isn’t enough Spec Ops personnel to hunt them all down and heaven help us if they gun one of these people down during a dangerous pursuit.

    I can’t sit here and say our police force is always righteous in its actions. I can’t say that there isn’t an officer who deserves to be on certain lists or flat out shouldn’t be the police becuase there are.

    Even so, every day the tope that toes my hands seem ever more tighter with each new special order, judge ruling, or prosecutor’s refusal to hear certain crimes. Everyday it seems the criminals get just a little more emboldened to continue their crimes. So much so I have had more than just a few now look.me square in the eye and flee from me on a traffic stop while I am but a meet foot or so away from the driver’s window.

    It is akin to being slapped in my face and dared to do something. I write this from a place of knowing why certain policies are in place. I have seen the horrific outcomes of police pursuits and understand the ramifications of “traffic only” pursuits. Still, I can’t help but wonder what will become of our/ my beloved city.

  2. Barb Taub says:

    WordPress needs different buttons. I couldn’t hit “LIKE” because I don’t like anything about this. Why aren’t there buttons saying “APPALLED” or “DISGUSTED” or “FURIOUS”? I could get behind any of those. But until they are there, please let me say that you’ve done your usual brilliant job of being angry and thoughtful and bullshit-cutting to get back to the truth.

    “There are very few violent offenders in the city who haven’t been arrested before. There is little more frustrating to police officers than seeing these people not prosecuted or released for reasons that boggle the mind. Nobody holds the prosecutors or judges or even defense attorneys responsible for the continuing cycle of violence.”

    The screenshot showing the unthinkable news of babies being shot next to the ‘popular’ news about cheerleading coaches is a powerful reminder of how much is wrong.

    Thank you.

  3. Maggie O'C says:

    Don, you are spot on as always. Well, at least St. Louis has the Stanley Cup!
    Can’t believe how old the kids are!

  4. markbialczak says:

    It is so awful I can hardly fathom the loss, Don. Thanks for sharing your view fearlessly, as always.

  5. randomlyerin says:

    People seem to have become entirely immune to feeling anything in regards to these tragedies. I can’t watch our local news most of the time because of all the death and destruction, and the news anchors talking about it like they’re reading a damn grocery list.

  6. Pat says:

    Let me preface by saying that I was born in St. Louis but have lived in the SF Bay Area most of my life. My memories of St. Louis are frozen circa 1960. Those are happy memories. These are not St. Louis problems. These are problems of a society that’s lost it’s soul and conscience. I give partial credit to the 24 hour news cycle and their need to fill the airwaves with constant shock, drama, terror and angst. All to gain eyeballs. We’ve become numb due to the bombardment tugging at our senses. I understand people escaping to fluff articles. I was talking to somebody about how horrific the homeless situation was and how we have gotten used to not thinking about them a people. They poop, pee and shoot up wherever they like and approach your space aggressively. You have to become numb or you will become overwhelmed. I think the same goes for such inhumane violence that is carried out within our society. We stop thinking of them as people lest we fall into despair. Sorry to be curt but somebody once told me “I only have so many “f**ks” to give”. That’s where we’re at.
    I try to be kind and loving to each and every person who touches my life daily. That’s the only thing that empowers me and gives me optimism in humanity. It hurts too much to do otherwise and I only have so many “f**ks to give.

  7. lbuxx09 says:

    As a citizen of the City of St. Louis – I am shocked and appalled EVERY time I hear about yet another killing. Specifically when it is a child.
    BUT – I feel like my voice doesn’t matter. Like I can’t change anything and everything rests in the “powers that be” whoever the hell that is at this point. I have to think that most of the law abiding citizens feel the same way.
    And what Pat said above is right on point – we have to get a break from the constant shock and horror and I think that’s why all the fluff is much more viewed.
    What can we do? Other than vote – which of course that will take years and then it’s still a gamble because no one ever runs on the platform of “I’ll do nothing important and do my best to tear apart the City.”

  8. Ellen says:

    Thanks for your article, once again it drew tears.

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