Back on April 2, I wrote about already dreading the long, hot summer. Even before the weather broke, while the days were balmy and the sun shone for more than just a few hours a day, I was already predicting that this would be a horrific summer. The news over the weekend that seven people were shot in just one hour's time in Austin should have this entire community in an uproar.
One of the seven individuals shot Sunday night was a 9-year-old child. I don't care what is going on. There is no excuse for individuals to be doing drive-by shootings - ever. And when the unintended target of those shootings ends up being a child, the outrage from this community should be fast and swift. Everyone in this community should be ranting and raving about the violence. We should be demanding that those responsible for the carnage receive a punishment that would make a lifetime sentence at Tamms Correctional Center seem like a holiday.
Now, if the Chicago police had accidentally shot a 9-year-old child, the Austin community would have been outraged. All over the television, we would have seen a variety of livid West Side ministers. But let the sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters - or even some of their own church members shoot a child - and all I am hearing is silence. Even the online version of this newspaper didn't have it as a breaking news story. So let's all just be honest. We just don't give a damn.
Recently in Miami, a woman living in public housing held a birthday party for her 20-year-old son. More than 200 young people were in attendance. The occasion had been advertised on Myspace.com. The party filled the streets with the individuals setting off fireworks, downing drinks and listening to the beat of the DJ's blaring rap music. Shortly after midnight on that Sunday night, according to police, "shots were fired from at least two directions and that six guns were used - five pistols and an AK-47 assault rifle." In the end, 12 people were shot and of those, two died. As a result of the shooting, the woman was evicted from her public housing unit. Officials in Florida cited, "criminal activity" and "drug and alcohol abuse" as the reason for the woman being asked to leave.
I thought about that after hearing of the latest carnage not only in Austin but all over Chicago. The individuals doing a lot of the shootings haven't even been here two decades. They are not taxpayers working to better this society. For the most part, they have been the recipients of taxpayer's dollars. So maybe we as a society and community need to take a tougher stance. Maybe have a zero tolerance when it comes to the criminal activity of those whose feed off the public trough. If your family member is involved in "criminal activity" and /or "drug and alcohol abuse," should that lead to the family becoming permanently ineligible to receive any public assistance forever? Should the entire family have to pay the price for the actions of one member? Is it fair to continue to give Link card benefits to people who use those services to maintain their life of crime?
Of course, there is the possibility that the individuals who did the recent shootings in Austin are working for a living. But I'll bet a couple of dollars that they don't work. But they are eating, and the source for that food is probably off of public dollars. They are sleeping all day and doing their carnage at night. They are not looking for work or standing around thinking of ways to create work. Rather, their entire life is obsessed with whatever kind of havoc they can generate. They are living in their mama's house or living in their girlfriend's house, but they are not living on their own and paying rent. Their idle time allows them to obtain guns, drugs and alcohol while doing little to better themselves - monetarily or educationally.
I understand that some may take issue with my point of view. I take issue with watching any of my tax dollars abused, by politicians and criminals alike. As a member of this society, I'm sick and tired of those whose life's goal seems to be nothing more than creating and maintaining havoc. Those who supplement them in that lifestyle need to be penalized as well.
The woman in Florida lost her home. Although she didn't pull the trigger, she made the carnage possible by hosting an event that should never have taken place in a home. Two hundred people at a house party; dancing and drinking in the streets? That wasn't a party; it was a disaster waiting to happen. There are some individuals here in Austin who are housing other disasters waiting to happen.
When the disaster does strike, we need to make all those who help contribute to it pay.
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