My city has been going through some drama lately. Last week, a man was walking home from the liquor store when he was severely beaten by six young teenagers. They pummeled him so hard that he was put in the hospital for four days. The kids had no other excuse for their behavior than boredom, and by all accounts, they seem to be proud of their crime.
Here’s the twist to the story that has everyone in a tizzy. The boys were black, and the victim was an unemployed white man. People were quick to point out the hypocrisy of not charging these boys with a hate crime. Flip the script: if it were six white kids who beat up a black guy, we would have Jesse Jackson flying in to demand justice.
Whether the reverse-racism claims are true, the boys are not going to be charged for a hate crime. Ohio doesn’t have a provision for hate crimes (SAY WHA???), and apparently the feds are not interested in prosecuting minors for hate crimes. Proving that this was a hate crime would be a near impossibility, unless you had a confession other than “boredom” as the primary motive.
A white supremacy group has become so enraged by this incident that they’ve decided to interfere in our evenly segregated city. They’ve put fliers on our cars directing their hateful message to the “white citizens”, and now they want to assemble in front of our police station (and mayor’s court) on the day that the kids are arraigned. Besides the obvious problem of having a hate group storm the city, there’s also the added problem of them rallying in the particular location they’ve selected: it’s within spitting distance of the middle school.
The superintendent has done everything he can to insure that the students will be safe. The school will be on lock down, the students will not be able to leave the building all day, the blinds will be shut so that they will not be subjected to the hate, and extra security will be provided by police and neighboring communities.
Despite the draconian measures being taken, some parents at the elementary school (near the hate rally but not in sight of it) are terrified to bring their kids to school on the day of the rally. My daughters report that many of their classmates will not attend, and that they think someone will shoot their school or climb in the windows to get them. Can you imagine?
These cowardly parents who are keeping their kids home are letting their fear of a two hour rally override their common sense, and they are inadvertently creating a panic for the students, many of whom are too young to understand any of this. Let’s be realistic. Even if the white supremacists act violently, they are rallying in front of a police station that will be surrounded by extra security. These schools will be locked down tighter than Alcatraz. If anything, students would be safer in the schools than at home or on the streets. In fact, allowing young teens with poor decision making skills to stay home may only create more trouble at this rally.
And the thing that bothers me the most is that none of these parents seem to be remotely concerned that the very individuals who committed the boredom-inspired act of violence that started it all are back at school enjoying the notoriety of being infamous. One of the suspects proudly bears the nickname “House Arrest”. Why aren’t parents afraid of their kids being stuck with remorseless criminal sociopaths as classmates?
Our community has been rocked by the events this week. The fear and panic partnered with the violence and intolerance have lowered our collective self-esteem. But, a group of citizens are fighting back peacefully by holding a “Unity Rally” (on the other side of town as the hate rally), where we show the better nature of our community. I will be at the Unity Rally promoting the school’s character education initiative. Hopefully, we will gain some interest in the initiative which will translate into money and volunteer time.
We need the help!