Six-year-old Lyric Lawson died after being shot in the head while asleep in her home on East 171st Street, north of St. Clair Avenue, again sparking outrage among a populace that has largely grown indifferent and insensitive to the mayhem created by gun violence in our communities. Yes, there soon was a large vigil where balloons, teddy bears and other stuffed animals were placed on the steps of the home where the child died. But the repetitiveness of such displays of emotions — while genuine in their origins — have had the effect of “normalizing” tragedy. We are exposed to it way too often.
Indeed, as difficult as it is to imagine, some folks are actually looking forward to the next time they can gather with others and display their grief, since this is as close as many attendees of these gatherings will get to something approximating organized religion. Yes, this is their way of going to church, and unbeknown to the faithful followers of gun violence, they — we — have become conditioned to be more accepting of senseless death.
While statistics from City Hall show there are 11 fewer killings in Cleveland this year than there was last year at this time, a cursory glance at numbers from previous years (there were 48 violent deaths by the end of September of 2011) show that 90 deaths so far this year is nothing to brag about. But there is something concrete city officials can do, rather than simply pontificating and poking fingers of righteous indignation in the air.
As the shooting death of Joshua Brown of Dallas, who was a prosecution witness in the trial of Amber Guyger, seemingly proves, stepping up and doing the right thing can be downright dangerous. He was shot to death a few days after the trial concluded according to the Dallas District Attorney’s Office, leaving many to wonder if his testimony caused his own death. Was the killing in retaliation to the testimony he gave at the trial that resulted in Guyger receiving a 10-year sentence for killing a black man?
When police and public officials get serious about people coming forth when they witness a murder, they will take steps to assure the citizen who wants to do their duty that they won’t pay with their lives for doing the right thing. Real and effective witness protection programs must be put in place to shield and protect those citizens that have the courage to do the right thing. It’s hard to fault folks for remaining silent when there are in genuine fear of their — or family members — lives.
And finally, the police need to lead by example. If they want people to “Say something when they see something,” then perhaps they should tear down the blue wall of silence that protects cops wrongdoing, and has existed with police departments virtually forever. If a Dallas cop came forth and identified the person or persons that killed Joshua Brown that would be a real good place to start.
From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc