Baltimore and Chicago Youth are Under Assault

If there was ever a television show that mirrored reality, it was The Wire.  I recently watched the first two episodes of the first season.  They reflected the rise of the Barksdale family and their increasingly tight grip on the crack trade. It also reflected the reluctance of witnesses to testify against them if crimes were committed during the course of the drug trade.  Lieutenant McNulty began his series long investigation of the Barksdales.  In spite of the violent scenes in the series, I never experienced first hand the results of the depravity that crack use can cause.

I read an article in the Baltimore Sun today that recounted the short life of Najee Thomas.  He was fourteen years old and was the third teenager killed in a week in this city.   I have a cousin that lives in Baltimore on a beautiful tree lined street.  It seems miles away from this carnage that is going on in this city that features the bliss of the Baltimore Harbor and other attractions for Ravens and Orioles fans.  The story revealed that Najee lived in of of the city's poorest neighborhoods.  Raysharde Sinclair and Michael Mayfield, who were seventeen and eighteen respectively, will also not make it to adulthood because of the continuing spasm of violence.

The Chicago Tribune reported that at least nine people were killed and 36 wounded during Easter weekend.  This holiday is sacred to Christians but it seemed like it was just another weekend for wounding and maiming people in one of the largest cities in the country.  It is the hometown of the President and is presently being run by one of his former staff people Rahm Emmanuel.  In spite of this big name recognition, a federal task force is now being utilized to try to stem this torrent of blood shed and violence.  There is still a gang problem in Chicago.  I remember when they demolished the high rise housing projects as a means to decentralize the gangs and lesson the violence.  It is clearly time to try another method of seeking peace.

The Baltimore Sun mentions poverty when it recounts the stories of the murders.  I wonder how much drug addiction and lack of job opportunities have contributed to these high rates of crime.  It is amazing that the Philadelphia Inquirer reported a story about a bust on the Main Line in suburban Philadelphia.  The arrested individuals include some individuals who attended the Haverford School.  Tuition here exceeds $13,000.00 a year.  These gentlemen wanted to control any drugs bought and sold in some of the most affluent communities in Pennsylvania.  Why would people living in these havens of wealth also feel a need to get high and escape reality?  They are not living in squalid surroundings and their future choices are not limited by lack of disposable income.  The arrests are perplexing to say the least.

Philadelphia has been relatively calm during this same time period.  We have our share of gun violence.  The murder rates last year reflected a thirty year low.  Focused Deterrence could be credited with some of this decline.  I wonder seriously what can be done to save the children that are victims and perpetrators of these crimes in Chicago and Baltimore.  I know people are seriously trying to study the root causes of this violence.  It has to be so difficult for the friends of these young victims not to feel like targets in this deadly time period.  No one wants to continue to bury young people.  Five young people were shot at an Easter celebration in Chicago.  Why would those shooters not take a minute to contemplate pulling the trigger on one of the most holy days on the calendar?  We need more than faith and a belief in God to stem the tide of this recent uptick in violence.

P.S. Fourteen year old Endia Martin was shot and killed in Chicago on 4/29/14 by a friend over a Facebook feud involving a boy.  Her friend was an honors student and admitted to the shooting soon afterwards.  So sad!!!

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