Tuesday, August 05, 2008

late 911 wears the late crown

This horrible crime happened within a short two minute walk from the front door of the home my parents raised me in.

I don't know the victim or the victim's family, but once, eleven years ago, I knew the neighborhood intimately. My aunt lives around the corner. I still have some family friends there. I can still be found in the neighborhood, visiting family from time to time. But this kind of thing didn't happen near my house when I was growing up there. Things like this were the fantastic stuff of gritty urban 90's movies, not the reality of the neighborhood where I safely played softball, rode my bike, jumped double-dutch, and went to the ice cream truck. Apparently, a lot has changed in the last decade. My old hood is the new hotspot.

This crime happened in less than a week since the newly tripled police force fanned out across the city in a show of force, parading down the main avenue of my old neighborhood one cruiser after another in a cacophony of sirens, showing off. I'm guessing that was display was meant to show the criminals that "the law" was in town. Then on Sunday, the police received a phone call warning that there was a man riding the streets openly carrying a gun. Guess they didn't get him, 'cause that Monday afternoon, that man sprayed a neighborhood while exchanging fire with another man, scattering the playing children in every direction, and ending the life of a bright-eyed preschooler. The child was the son of the woman who called the police to report the threat.

There but for the grace of God goes one of my loved ones. It just hits so close to home.

Now I'm not saying that the police are to blame for the bad choices of the shooters, or the decision the mother made to let her child play outside that day, knowing that someone was riding around on a bike with a gun. But it remains to be seen why the murderer was cruising the street with impunity the day after it was brought to their attention that this guy was out there. Especially since "the law" was in town and in full force.

This is the kind of stuff that makes people from the hood reject the notion that their suspicions and chips on shoulders are figments of their imagination. This is the kind of stuff that makes people from the hood say things like, "If a man was riding a bike with a semi-automatic weapon in [insert predominantly white middle-class neighborhood here], and someone called the police, something would have been done to make sure those children were safe." It's not every theorist's favorite, "black pathology," that makes us not trust the police. It's stuff like this.

May God comfort and strengthen the family of little Brandon Thompson.