For people in the West Valley area – this gang member allegedly committed a double-shooting at Dust Devil Park next to our neighborhood.
Allow me to rant for a minute: No. Seriously rant. Righteous indignation, “I was right” and kiss my behind because I openly predicted this even RRRRRAAAAANNNNNNTTTTT.
And here’s why I’m ranting. For 4 years now, I’ve been trying to get members of the community together. Not to do anything official or crazy – just to watch what’s on their block. Just to report crimes if they happen to see them. Only 5 people total have stepped up out of 439 homes in our development, and that’s just sad. That’s JUST BARELY 1% of people who have committed to report crimes while they are happening in our neighborhood. Those people who HAVE stood up have done an amazing job, and my hats off to them – and more on that in a minute, because they did something I believe is absolutely related and significant to this.
I’ve interacted with this kid.
I remember confronting this kid when his little “crew” was writing his graffiti on our community walls and completely trashed our basketball court. He told me his name was something it wasn’t, and had no ability to look me in the eye. And having been from southside Chicago, I’ve seen some pretty good street art with spray paint. I’ve also seen murals. This wasn’t even close. It wasn’t even artsy or impressive graffiti. It was single-line paint scrawl with penmanship that a second grader could put to shame, and it never got better over the years.
But more ugly was the response from the average neighbor. “It’s a victimless crime, I don’t want to get involved”, said a lot of people in the community who watched this kid do it and just shrugged their shoulders, feigning concern and just standing by and watching it happen – and in the next breath, wanting to know “WHEN IN THE [****] IS THE [***-****] HOA going to get someone to clean it up, because it makes the neighborhood look bad“.
I’d ask, “When did you report it”, only to be met with a blank stare of confusion, as if reporting crimes was like this “new-fangled Internet thing”. “You mean *I* should call”, they would ask incredulously, shocked that I’d dare suggest they get any more further involved than to… of course.. inform ME that *I* should get involved. So instead of the community reporting it, people would wait, and the crimes
went away got worse. Hmmmm. Just as I consistently predicted each time someone says that.
Empowered, this youth took it to the next level.
How about NOW? Is NOW a good time to revisit this? Is this shooting finally enough of a crime to realize that 7 rounds went off only two blocks away and only 3 of those bullets hit their mark and four went “stray”? He HAD a paint can and people said, “HO HUM”.
Then he GOT a gun. Now people get all:
Which one was best for the community to get involved in? The early crimes? Or the big effin’ murder that he was empowered to commit because nobody stood up?
It wouldn’t have gotten this far if police, counselors and parents got involved. But nobody did. Why? Because people refused to stand up and accuse this person of the smaller crimes, which may have put him on the right track – or at the very least, sent a message. Or not. We may never know. So now he’s done a nice big one, and I’ll bet he has your attention now.
Well, good news people. I think the graffiti is the least of our concerns now with this particular gang member. So there’s that. I get to celebrate, because I’ll bet that I’m pretty much the only person – besides paid city employees who clean up after this kid employed by Phoenix Neighborhood Services – who has to follow this kid anymore in my local neighborhood. I carry my own defense while I do it. You discover what that is if you point a weapon at me.
So how about you? I saw an open letter someone wrote to the police.
Let’s just say I’m glad I’m not tasked to do their laundry, cause SOMEONE is dookin’ their shorts.
I won’t be disrespectful or call them out. They are entitled to their opinion, but here is my response to people who want “someone else” to take care of their neighborhood:
Do you feel safer, now that you went inside and hid? Decided to “not get involved”? Look out your window and see what happens when you do that. THIS. THIS is what happens.
So on to how our neighbors are heroes: I believe this would have happened in OUR basketball courts and in OUR neighborhood if it happened 2 years ago. But instead, a few people stood up and started watching our parks, and consistently calling the police, even if it “took forever for the cops to show up” – hours later, they would still file a report, even though the perp was long gone, and all that was left to do was photograph the damage – which went into the THOUSANDS of dollars. So hats off to the people in our community that stood up and made a difference. I am absolutely certain that we avoided this on our property because of 3 people being good neighbors and reporting suspicious activity consistently – so consistently that it made these guys leave and go somewhere else where neighbors didn’t call so often and they were hassled less. They were hassled less at Dust Devil Park. This shows that community involvement – even minimal – can make a critical, life-saving difference.
It’s time to share that logic.
I’ll be asking these questions – particularly the “How about now? Will you get involved?” question – next week as I go around the neighborhood to ask people to get involved. I am more of an activist now about making our neighborhood a better place to live than ever. It’s time for a change, and people need to either step up, or shut up about the place not being a great place to live. And if you complain without a plan to be part of the solution, you’ll be told the same thing:
Do something about it or get behind someone who is. Otherwise, lock your doors and hide.
In the meantime, let’s take a moment and drop the excuses When crimes are being committed, it is NOT “just kids being kids, they’ll out grow it”. It’s an opportunity – uncomfortable as it may be – for the police to communicate with the parents that something is wrong, and their parental guidance would benefit the kid greatly.
This was just exactly one of those kids that several people predicted would “outgrow” being a felonious wall-scribbling dirtbag. No need to call the cops they said. No big deal, at all.
Now he shoots a 22 year old in the head without warning in daylight, in public, becoming a felonious murder suspect.
So how about now? Did he outgrow it?
No way. Screw that…
/rant back on
Lest I forget, I predict that someone is going to end up blaming this whole neighborhood thing on guns.
So let’s have that discussion, because I know a little about both:
Because never mind the criminal history of a documented underage gang member who could not have possibly purchased a weapon legally, (did you see that? Those are the BAD gun owners, not those of us who purchase with background checks and in compliance with the law!) or the missed opportunities to catch crime while it’s happening, along with community apathy, or the chances to identify or rehabilitate or educate someone who is committing felonies… all these things failed that are supposed to work in the system.
Do you expect a gun law to do any better? It won’t. Because first, you have to have someone “get involved”. Be willing to be a witness, or testify. And most people today, it seems, are unwilling. If you want a problem to solve, solve THAT one FIRST. They can protect themselves, too, and they have that right.
Don’t you DARE blame the gun, because I’ve also seen the Facebook page these kids in Phoenix locally trade stolen guns for sneakers, sports caps and prescription codeine. I’ve turned these pages into the PPD on several occasions, and guess what? They’re busy with other crimes that a single gun transaction on Craigslist doesn’t even register to them, EVEN if it is advertised as STOLEN or modified. And let’s mention how the Phoenix Mayor and majority of Councilmen just cut the Police Force’s budget AND raises, resulting in LESS HOURS and NO NEW OFFICERS, so those crimes will NEVER be investigated. There’s just not enough bandwidth. And none of your new gun laws were going to prevent criminal gang members from stealing and trading guns for shiny new kicks and liquid codeine to get “crunked”. It happens openly on Craigslist and Facebook. EVERY DAY. No, really. Every. Single. Day.
So even if new laws were added, there’s not enough bandwidth to enforce, stop or even slow the criminal trading online. Police are only going to look at history of a purchase or an offer online after a murder, only for the purposes of solving that murder, until it is solved. Then something more important comes by that needs to be investigated and any other information is “unnecessary”, and therefore ignored.
Sorry reality sucks, but that’s how it is. ANTH’NO’POLOGY. I’ve had these discussions with several officers, and there’s no solution possible today based on their bandwidth. Murder is against the law, but as many laws as you write, criminals break them. Gun laws included. Nothing would have stopped this. Not laws, not a ban, not a restriction, and not anything.
Maybe more crimes could be avoided if criminals get caught because people stepped forward to do what’s “right” instead of what’s “easy” or “convenient”, like ignoring them.
The gun fired a bullet for one second. Prior to that, there was at least 4 years that I know of with a failed system protecting a felonious, documented gang criminal and an apathetic public that refused to report his other crimes “because he’s just a kid” and he “might outgrow it”.
Again, how about now? Did he outgrow it?