Thursday, July 26, 2007

“If you knew that happened, would you stay here?”

(This is a follow up to “The Silence is Killing Us”

What I am about to write about has got to be one of the most horrific crimes I have ever heard about and as I was reading it I couldn’t believe it. What this crime says about us as people is startling and damning. How could we have let places in this country get this bad? This neglect of the poor has to stop; this silence to criminals must end.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., July 16 — The single mothers and children who fill most of the apartments at Dunbar Village — a housing project on the poor, black, north side of this city — are used to nightly gunfire. They are used to theft, assault, murder and the indifference of federal and local authorities.

But nothing could have prepared them for the awfulness of the attack that took place last month, which the local prosecutor called “the worst crime I’ve seen in 37 years in the business.

After dark on June 18, the police say, as many as 10 armed assailants repeatedly raped a Haitian immigrant in her apartment at Dunbar Village and then went further, forcing her to perform oral sex on her 12-year-old son. They took cellphone pictures of their acts. They burned the woman’s skin and the boy’s eyes with cleaning fluid, forced them to lie naked together in the bathtub, hit them with a broom and a gun and threatened to set them on fire.

Neighbors did not respond to her screams, and no one called the police. The victims ended up walking a mile to the nearest hospital afterward.[1]

Being poor is no excuse for this to happen to you. This should be an outrage to all Americans who value decency. There is so much blame in this story; I don’t know where to start. Should I start with a system that raises teenagers this merciless and depraved, or should I start with the neglect of the city officials elected to serve and protect that turn a blind eye to this neighborhood, or should I start with the neighbors who sit there for three hours listening to this woman and her child screaming and did nothing?

There have been 3 arrests made in this case and they range in age from 14 to 16, these are kids. Where do they get this level of cruelty? It would be just a sad commentary if it was an isolated incident, but these types of crimes are becoming all too common place in our communities. As more and more of these kids gain access to guns, drugs, and “gangsterism” these crimes have escalated. They are happening in all of our Black communities, the value of life in the hood has never been cheaper. It is as though respect for life is missing from a large proportion the current generations. Many of these little thugs and hooligans believe that their drug money and thug lifestyle gives them carte blanche in our neighborhoods and the more we fear them the stronger they become. They rely on silence and fear to perpetrate these atrocities. If this type of behavior was being documented anywhere else in the world, there would be outrage. Yet these types of crimes are committed with impunity against our women and children. Where are our men?

The next obvious question is where are the city officials elected to protect all of its citizens. How the mayor of this city is able to sleep is beyond me, but not just this mayor but a lot of other ones. Have our city officials taken the stance that we should just let the poor, black people kill themselves, so long as it doesn’t spill over into the suburbs. The whole government of this city has let this women and her child down. There is obviously an attitude in this city that contacting the authorities is a waste of time and if this is in fact true then anarchy is not far away. There is a growing belief in many communities that the police will not protect and the DA’s will not convict so what’s the use. Many are living in fear that they will be hung out to dry if they come forward. It is as though the police have conceded parts of our cities to these thugs and that the residents of these neighborhoods are on their own against these gangs. The police chief of this city should resign in disgrace or be fired for allowing this attitude to take place. There is a crisis situation in our neighborhoods that require more than our current political leaders and police officials are doing. This is racism at its worse. You won’t protect the citizenry against these gangs, but you also don’t allow the citizenry to protect themselves.

And finally for the residents that did nothing, you deserve the biggest condemnation. These residents listened to this woman and her son scream for three hours and did nothing. Noone even bothered to call the police while this atrocity was taking place. This isn’t some war torn village this is a city in the richest country in the world and in one of the richest places in that country. What breaks my heart is that these residents have to be so detached from the violence around them that they could witness this attack, not respond and can face themselves in the mirror. Are they so jaded by the lack of concern of others that the screams of a mother and a child go unheeded? What does that say about us as a nation? As a community?

Outside another unit, Calvin Jones, 71, said he would leave with his 13-year-old granddaughter this weekend. They came to Dunbar Village from Gulfport, Miss., after Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Jones said, and now they were going back — though with no home.

“If you knew that happened,” he asked, “would you stay here?”[2]



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