Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Is Betty a victim...

...or a fool?
In my mind’s eye I picture Betty Granger as the quintessential black matriarch. Her house is home to all sorts of grandchildren and nephews. And armed with a rolling pin she’s gonna make sure those kids make something of themselves.

Betty was a victim of overzealous policing back in March (or so they say). According to the story, Betty and her husband were having coffee early one Sunday morning when suddenly two dozen cops were busting down the door and searching the house. Everyone got “roughed up” by the cops that morning and they didn’t find a thing.

So Betty complained and the city came out and fixed up the place to the tune of $3,000 in repairs. (I think that was a bad precedent on the part of the city but there wasn’t much else they could do. I can only hope the cops kept a spare key to the new front door so they don’t have to use a ram next time.)

Well, Betty is in the news once more. Two of her grandsons, 17 and 19, were wounded in a drive-by shooting Sunday night. They live with her. The boys were walking along with their friend Benito at 11:15 pm on their way to the gas station for some cigarettes when someone (no one’s talking) took some shots at them.

Now, Betty, I’m going to walk you through this situation and try to help you understand what went wrong. Try to see if there were any signs of trouble leading up to the shooting.

1) Benito Suarez is a hoodlum. He spent 18 months in prison for aggravated use of a weapon. He has three other convictions for violent crimes as well. You know that, Betty. The only appropriate response when Benito shows up to see your grandkids is to chase him off the porch with a garden shovel.
2) Benito is four years older than Raymond. It is not good for a boy that young to spend time with any 21-year old.
3) It is 11:15 on a Sunday night, not a good time for boys to be wandering the streets. If they are the students you say they are, they should be in bed.
4) You just had a shooting around the corner a couple of weeks ago. And you are within four blocks of every gang crime scene this summer. Now is the time to be extra careful with those boys of yours.
5) It just might be time to clean house at your place. Just maybe everyone living under your roof isn’t innocent of the charges filed against them. Maybe the younger ones can be saved, but you’ll have to evict the lawbreakers in your house to do it.

Well, Betty, did any bells go off when I pointed those things out to you? I suspect not. You’re still talking police brutality and "They are not in a gang. Those are teenagers that are going to school and trying to be something." Things won’t improve until you get out of victim mode, Betty.

Unfortunately, Elgin is filled with guardians like Betty. Some of them are named Guadalupe or Javier or Tito or Marisol. (You think that was a racist remark? Let me share with you the demographics of the school in Betty’s Neighborhood. In 2006 Sheridan Elementary had 25 white students, 52 black, and 452 Hispanic students - 275 of them in bilingual ed. Is it racist now?)

There is no hope of solving this gang problem with parents like that. They have no parenting skills. They are in denial about their own kids’ involvement. They are unwilling to tell police what they know.

Parents, are you afraid of your kids? If your child is out of control, gather evidence from his bedroom and call the cops. There isn’t anything in your current relationship that will solve the problem, and you just might save his life.

How many warning shots will it take before the parents of these gang-bangers start telling it like it is?

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