Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hiding Serious Murders by Labeling them Chicago Public School Students

I am bothered by a trend that has been occurring lately. I’m sure I’m not the only one. I can’t say exactly when the trend started, although it has been occurring for the past couple of years. The trend that is upsetting me is the tendency by the media to group any teenager killed as a “Chicago Public School Student”.

I’m sure you have heard it too. Rather than do true “news” reporting and tell the facts, any young person who is killed is now linked to the CPS and not a community, gang or any other reason for the murder. Like the case of Alex Arellano, the young 15-year-old who was found last week stabbed, beaten by bats, hit by a car, shot in the head and burned beyond recognition. He hadn’t attended a CPS since September, 2008. That’s almost a full attendance year.

What bothers me about the media calling those killed a CPS student is that 99% of the time, the CPS have nothing to do with the murder. The young person isn’t on CPS property or even killed leaving school. The only link is that the person is attending or may have attended CPS. But then again, we can call the children killed a variety of titles. They are also “Chicago residents”, “taxpayers”, “future voters” and on and on.

I am bothered when anybody in the City of Chicago is murdered. I am especially disturbed when young people who should be seen as the foundation of our future are murdered. The case of Alex Arellano is more disturbing than any I’ve seen or heard about in years. This kid wasn’t just killed; he was slaughtered – up close and personal. There is a lot of hatred for someone to hit you with a bat, stab you with a knife, run you over with a car and take a shotgun and shoot you in the head. Then as the final act of retribution, they set your dead or dying body on fire with gasoline to be burned beyond recognition.

Do we really want this heinous crime to also contain the label of CPS student? Or should we call it exactly what it was. A gangland killing of such a terrorist proportion that the federal government needs to intervene so that whoever is responsible is not only captured, convicted but also given the ultimate punishment – the death penalty. Whoever killed Alex Arellano needs to be in the same sort of Guantanamo prison that this country is so quick to do with other “alleged” terrorist from Muslim countries.

Now I do have to give news outlets that printed the picture of Alex Arellano throwing gang signs a basic “kudos”. The picture taken from his MySpace page sheds some light on why he may have been murdered. He was displaying his gang’s sign with his right hand and a rival gang’s sign upside down with his left. An apparent insult to the other gang. I am tired of parents whose children are the recipients of gangland justice being in denial as to what their children are doing. Gangs are not the Chicago police. They don’t respect your rights. They don’t ask with a pleading plea of “please”. They’re not looking for an apology when they feel disrespected. Rather they solve all their issues with violent actions.

One of the reasons that I am tired of hearing all murders tied to the CPS is because it seems to indemnify neighborhoods and groups from responsibilities when it comes to the murder. In the case of Alex Arellano, I found it perplexing that the Hispanic community has shown a total lack of outrage over this murder. Now if you juxtaposed his murder with the raid a year ago by the FBI on a fake document ring at a Little Village shopping mall, no sooner had the raid taken place when hundred of Hispanic activists took to the streets in protest. Their concerns; the FBI had guns; they raided a store in broad daylight; children were afraid and parents were crying. The Hispanic community filled with “undocumented workers” wouldn’t be afraid or intimidated. They have rights.

So where are those same activists now that one of their own was beaten with a bat, stabbed with a knife, run over by a car, shot in the head and then burned to a crisp? Where is the outrage over the killers still walking the streets? Whoever killed Alex Arellano took the time to find five different ways to kill him. Beating him with a bat wasn’t enough. Stabbing him with a knife just didn’t fill the bill. Hitting him with the car wasn’t satisfying. Shooting him with a shotgun did kill him; but it still wasn’t deemed enough to satisfy their blood thirst. Setting him on fire was their final despicable act and even then, they were bold enough to do it in the gangway of an abandoned bungalow in a crowded neighborhood filled with children and families and not in the hidden confines of some out of the way spot.

Alex Arellano didn’t deserve to die the kind of death that was meted out to him. Nor do any of us deserve to have those kinds of killers walking the streets. Whoever killed Alex Arellano has been emboldened by their actions. There has not been a public outcry to find the killers. In fact the silence from the Hispanic community almost gives his murderers an okay for what they did. Plus we also need to know all the reasons for his murder in such a heinous fashion. Were the killers sending a message and to whom? Is his murder the newest “standard” for gangland slayings? How many 911 calls were or were not made as the kid was being beaten by the bats? How many calls were made or not made when he was being stabbed? Didn’t anyone call police as he was being chased and hit by the car? Or call the police when the sound of a shotgun blast was sent into his head? Didn’t anyone hear or smell his body smoldering as it burned or do anything about it?

Pay Attention Chicago. The long hot summer is beginning and until we rise up and take back our streets, Alex’s mode of murder may just be the beginning.

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