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