Posted by: wordofexcellence | June 11, 2012

Murder Most Foul

“My Hartford News” on www.courant.com at9:52 pm on a Monday evening, June the eleventh reflects the following as what would seem to be the major headlines.

 1 – “Acme United Acquires Bloomfield’s C-Thru Ruler”

2 – “Hartford Man Charged with trying to run down officer”

3 – “Supreme Court – Slain Witness Statement Admissable”

4 – “ MichaelBoltonto perform charity concert”

5 – “Two dead after weekend shootings inHartford”

6 – “No foul play suspected in baby’s death”

 Pardon me if I’m disgusted by the impact of these stories and the chronological order in which they are placed.

 Two young men died over the weekend. One was 24, the father of two small children. Those babies will never see their dad again. Not only is this tragic, it’s heinous. It is unforgivable (God, please decide this). It is astounding. The other young person shot and killed in Hartford this weekend was 16 years old.

 I may be a fool, but 16 is way too young to be shot to death. I don’t care what the rationale was. Did I say “rationale”?  How dare I say that! No rationality exists in the shooting of another person.

Let’s be real for a minute.

 Is there any age at which it’s appropriate to be shot dead?

 I happen to think that there is no such age. A high school kid shot dead – yeah, it was early in the morning, and you could make the case that he ought not to be out on the streets at that time of day – is it at all reasonable?

 Have we become a nation of people who look the other way when someone is shot to death? Do the police (my son’s a cop, so I know it’s not easy) take the attitude that it’s imperative to stop crime instead of solve it?

 Community activists (what a cute way to describe them!) claim that the police simply don’t give a damn. So many of the officers are white and so many of the victims are black; that makes it easy to say that they don’t care. I doubt that there’s that sort of disconnect between the police and the public, but in Hartford, the preponderance of deaths from gunfire is limited to one or two areas of the city. You don’t hear about shootings at the major hotels downtown, or on theWest End, where plenty of the elite live.

 It just so happens that a good friend of mine lost her cousin the other night to a shooting. I pray for her, just as I pray for the lives of those who reside in these “mean streets.” But hey, the first killing on the weekend was within a block or so of the hospital. It’s a neighborhood that I’ve traversed over the years, without fear. Yeah, okay, it was after midnight; but I defy any of you readers to tell me that you’ve never been out after midnight.

 Does the mere fact that someone is out late make him a bad guy, or a victim who “should have been home asleep”? Is it an outrage that a 16 year old high school kid was in one of those neighborhoods after midnight?

 Quite frankly, I don’t know the answers to those questions. I do know, however, that there must be a concerted effort to change the streets of Hartford…to eliminate the guns, to eliminate the gangs that prevail, to eliminate the ennui that settles among the neighborhoods, to eliminate the discouragement that is derived from unemployment.

The city has made strides. There used to be more killings per capita, but they’ve been decreased in the last year or so. Whoopee!  Does that make these recent killings any easier to swallow?

In 1996, I moved to Hartford. My son (the cop) told me “you’re gonna get killed.” I poo-poohed the idea, although I recognized that the barriers set up in the streets surrounding my neighborhood represented a severe drug problem in Hartford. I was blessed to live in a nice, comfortable South End neighborhood that didn’t really experience much crime. I left there in 2004 for the suburbs, not because of fear but more for circumstances. I enjoyed my years living there…I didn’t see much crime, and I didn’t have any real issues there.

The bottom line? My son was wrong –  not only did I survive, but I actually enjoyed my stay in Hartford. Would I do it again in 2012? That may well be a question for the ages, as I no longer have much enthusiasm about the city and its issues.

I pray that the people of Hartford will find, at last, peace on the streets and in their households. I don’t doubt that the mayor and the police chief want solutions to the violence we’ve seen.

Unfortunately, I also don’t have a solution. I have a prayer though, and I’ll use that wisely.

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