I’m going to tell you a story. It’s not a happy story; nor will the ending set your mind at ease. There were three white teenage boys, loved by their parents, went missing one day. Parents of the three searched high and low; along with neighbors and friends. A plea went out on social media and local news channels. But it was if the three had simply vanished; no traces left behind of their whereabouts. Local police were at a loss; but they received a tip that perhaps some black kids from the bad part of town might have had something to do with it. It was all rumor of course; as the police know that chances of 16 year olds being abducted by family or someone they know are as good, or better than being abducted by strangers. But these police were feeling pressure. Pressure from the local community, and nationwide thanks to social media. “Bring back our boys!” the social media keyboard warriors cried. In fact, the cries were so loud even the Governor of the state became involved. “This is bad PR” thought the Governor, “this reflects poorly on our local police department. But wait.. Haven’t we been wanting to root out those unsavory characters across town? We’ve been shaking them down for years; arresting the scum, bulldozing their homes, and they still remain. This might be the catalyst we need!”
So, the governor phones the local police chief, “Say, chief. It seems your investigation with no evidence is going way too slow. But I hear some rumblings it could be some kids from the hood across town involved.” The police chief replied, “That’s right Governor. We have no hard evidence of this, but lots of circumstantial stuff. And TONS of rumors. But you know those kids in the hood are always stirring up trouble.” “Well I tell you what”, the Governor replied, “I’ll not only send some staties in there to help investigate, I’m going to send in the National Guard across town to find out what the hell happened to those three!” The police chief agreed to these terms and anxiously awaited the arrival of “more assistance”. The National Guard arrived with a clear set of orders to start breaking down doors in the hood with extreme prejudice. “Make sure there are NO media in there when you do this”, declared the Governor. “Pictures after the fact on social media won’t matter. It’s just the poor black hood anyway.”
The National Guard enter the hood, total destruction in their wake. Not only destroying homes, but looting families savings they had found in mattresses, freezers and cookie jars. The young males were not about to sit idle during this complete invasion, so they began to resist. Arrest after arrest of the young men, some weren’t even men; some were as young as 8 years old. “This kid was mouthing off at me!”, shouted one National Guardsman. “I’ll show him to respect my authority!” So, the 8 year old, with now a black eye and missing teeth, was being carted away with the rest to some jail somewhere. It was in the midst of this destruction, and with not a shred of evidence linking anyone in the hood to the abductions; that the bodies of the three white teens were found near the boundary line of the hood.
The Governor went on TV and social media and shouted, “We will have vengeance! I have evidence of who did this and they will pay!” The Governor was a widely respected man, thought to be even the smartest in the state, so no one questioned what he said. Well, almost no one. A few of those social media keyboard warriors began to ask, “What is this evidence?” and “Why are the National Guard involved in a crime investigation?” and even more pertinent, “Why is the entire hood being collectively punished?”
But these questions were drowned out by the holy rollers across town that wanted an eye for an eye. Logic had been replaced by the emotional outbursts of the lynch mob. So, the hood was thoroughly terrorized by the National Guard; but not only them. The staties had gotten in on the act, as well as those neighbors literally living across the street! Those neighbors didn’t like those hood kids anyway! They were always walking on their grass and telling them how their great-grandparents used to live on that land before it was bulldozed by the state. “To hell with those hood kids”, thought the neighbors. “Our homes will be safer if they are removed anyway”. A group of neighbors rallied together and found a boy, about the same age as those found murdered, and decided on a little vigilante justice. “No one will care about this black kid. He’s a hood rat, worth nothing compared to those three, sweet boys just found murdered. We’ll make him PAY!” And they did. The boy was beaten, sexually molested, and then burned to death. The mother and father of this boy receive the news that their son “paid” for the deaths of those three innocent white boys. These grieving parents were told by the Governor’s office that they would not receive the body of their son unless they signed a sworn statement that the boy was involved in a family dispute; and that the neighbors had nothing to do with his death. The grieving parents knew what had happened to their son; his friends saw what the neighbors did to him. They even took pictures of his burned body after the neighbors dumped him. “But what to do?”, they cried. “We just want to bury our son and live in peace! He was a good boy. He was never in trouble and he always did what we asked. Why him?”
There were other grieving parents in the hood that night; those that had their children arrested and taken away. “When will this end?”, they cried. “Our grandparents went through this, many of our own friends in childhood were arrested or killed, and now it is our children who are suffering. Why does no one care? Why are we worth less than those across town and even those across the street?”
These were questions with no real answers. As much as those in the hood tried to console one another, there was a seething anger. Anger at those that continue to view them as less; easily thrown away and discarded. There are those that hear their cries, and want to help. There are those that cry with them, and are just as angry. There are those that want this to end.
Will those that really murdered the three white boys ever be found? Impossible to predict. Will the terror in the hood continue? Almost certainly.
“I have always found that mercy bear richer fruits than strict justice”, Abraham Lincoln.