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Community Outrage: Same old song

I have mad respect for the Miami Police Department, and any other law enforcement agency making an effort to do its job. And I would never speak disrespectfully of an honest, legitimate, member of the clergy.

But frankly, I'm not that interested in what either has to say about the latest violent crime tragedy to hit Miami. Last week, nine people hanging out, playing dice in an uptown neighborhood were gunned down by a masked man - or woman; who knows, since a mask was worn? - toting an AK-47.

Two teenagers died from their injuries. The gunman is still at large.

I understand the political and practical reasons for why the police want assault weapons bans. And I understand why the clergy led marches, and public prayers, and called on the government to help fix things with jobs, and better housing, and programs for idle youth.

And there's nothing wrong with any of that stuff. Far be it from me to tell the clergy to stop with the activism. Without activist clergy there may have never been a Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. back in the day. And far be it from me to tell the police they're wrong about assault weapons. I love my guns. But then again, I have enough good sense that I wouldn't use 'em for any reason but self defense or target practice.

Never say never, right? I could be so broke and desperate one day that I feel armed robbery is my only way out, right? That'd be good logic, except this shooting wasn't about robbery. Neither are most like it.

For the umpteenth time, the solution to this kind of senseless violence is old-school home training.

The clergy here is demanding that gunmen stop it, programs be created, and and neighbors come forward.

What about demanding that parents and legal guardians of these kids - and yes, many of these gunmen turn out to be kids or barely older - start manhandling them and putting them on a regimine and getting in their face when they break a small rule, so they don't break a big one later?

Yeah, "the system" is bad, and people are poor and increasingly desperate, and kids are rasing kids, etc. Nevertheless, money and a better "system" won't stop this stuff. The idea that nicer housing and more money for all will end violent criminal behavior is nuts.

I recall, when I was a crime writer back in the day, visiting the home of a 15-year-old murder victim - a girl who'd been shot and dumped out of a car at like 3 a.m. - and sitting down with her mom.

My heart ached for the family. But mom, in spite of her grief, wanted to know when the system would change. She had lots of opinions on the horrible world around us.

And I didn't disagree with her. But when I asked her if she knew why her 15-year-old was out of the house at 3 a.m. on a week night (or any night, for that matter), she replied to the effect that she didn't know and assumed maybe the girl was with friends. Assumed?

Old-school home training dictates that girl should have been at home, in bed, sleeping in preparation for school the next day. That sort of governance is free and can be imposed a hell of a lot faster than change to "the system."

I covered another homicide, in which an 11-year-old girl visiting her grandmother and minding her own business, was struck in the head by a stray bullet and killed. Where'd the bullet come from? A young man and his buddies on the street outside her home. He and his pals were running down the street chasing another young man, guns blazing. Thirty-three shots were fired in that barrage. And those crooked-shooting fools didn't even hit the guy they were aiming at, if I remember right. Instead they killed the girl, a couple of parked cars, and some vinyl siding.

But here's the best part. Once captured, the gunmen, who are all in prison today, told police that they were chasing the other guy and shooting at him, because they "thought" he "might" have been involved in the shooting of one of their friends at a party the night before. It gets better, actually. At least one of these fools offered police a different motivation: that their intended victim had stepped on one of their girlfriend's expensive shoes at the party, the night before, and scuffed the shoe. They didn't like his attitude and didn't think his apology was sincere enough. So their solution to this injustice was to shoot and presumably kill him.

That, my friends, was not an action that was caused 'cause these young men didn't have jobs or a nice home. That was an action that resulted from these young men growing up in a way that left them with no respect for human life. Again, respect is free.

I want to round up local clergy and tell them that they don't have to stop fussing at killers, authorities and government officials, and neighbors who bite their tongues when they've witnessed crime. But maybe they should start using their pulpits to also fuss at the people raising violent killers. Point a few fingers and ask parents when was the last time they did homework with their kid and whether they know where their kids are at night. They might lose a few parishioners at first, but in the end, even the people who leave the church will be better off for having heard the blunt truth.

Home training. It's good for what ails ya.


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Account Deleted

Excellent points...again.
Do you think anyone will listen?


Exactly right, James. The problem is that it is easier to pass feel-good laws and mouth meaningless platitudes than it is to actually do something that works. Not enough parents teach responsibility to their children. Of course too many parents are irresponsible, also.
Just my opinion.

ɔıuʎɔıʇsɐɔɹɐs ǝɥʇ

If there were an easy fix, it would have been done by now. Same thing for a cheap fix.

It's a pity that most jobs having to do with children are in the lowest pay range.

But the people in the ADVERTISING business; they get the big bucks. How 'bout spending some of those dollars on the kids??


"But the people in the ADVERTISING business; they get the big bucks. How 'bout spending some of those dollars on the kids??"

If you coughed up $24 a month you could literally save a kid from dying of starvation.

If you coughed up $48 you could save 2.

Shouldn't you be spending every cent you have that's not being used to feed yourself to save all these children?

At what point do you stop saving people with your money and spend it on what you want? At what point is it not your responsibility?

James is making the point that the buck stops at killers and those that brought the killers into the world. Unfortunately they don't care and they never will.

Jeni Hill Ertmer

You are so right in your words in this post. All the money in the world won't make things better if kids don't learn the basics -manners, respect, etc., at home!!! Sure there are problems in many schools today but how many of those problems also stem from kids who show up to do any thing except learn?


Do you want me to comment when you have said it all and are completely correct? And I have said it before? Or do you just want me to practice typing because I am so bad at it?

James B.

Okie Sister, good question. Regardless of the answer, I feel a personal obligation to keep saying this.

BobG, I'm technically not a parent yet (I'll explain the "technically" another time; no, I don't have any illegitimate kids running around out there - no kids at all). But I agree with you. Observation tells me a lot of parents I see aren't putting in the effort.

Sarc, I hear ya about that money being spent on stupid stuff, but the point of my post was that money doesn't instill character in young fatheads. Good parenting does.

WavemanCali, thank you. That was my point.

Jeni, you're right. Again, it stems back to home training. Kids who get it, got to school on a mission, even when they don't feel like it 'cause they know when they get home in the afternoon their parents will want to debrief them.

Ha! Monty, I want you to say it/write it anyway, 'cause you feel it and want to get the words out.


The Change that we want is the change that we are not ready for, although we throw these pep rallies and camera interviews. This much needed change requires everyone to look in the mirror and take accountability for what this community is lacking but are willing to do that...no ...because it seems easier to blame parents and law enforcement for their attempts. Can you look in the mirror and say I was wrong?

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