Friday, March 02, 2012

Detroit 911

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing was calling on Detroiters Monday to respond to a wave of shootings by young people in the city, imploring citizens, “Let’s stop the madness.” (“Bing tells troubled city: ‘Let’s stop the madness’”).

“When you’ve got parents afraid of their kids, you know you have not done a good job as a parent,” Bing said. “You need to start disciplining those young people when they come out of the womb. Mothers and fathers ... you can’t start disciplining a kid at the age of 12 or 14, it’s too late.”

I sympathize with the frustrations Bing must feel at this seemingly intractable problem. But I have no idea what tools he imagines are available to the government to remedy a culture as pathologically degraded as the one giving birth to this mayhem.

Don’t just shake your head at the drive-by murder of an infant sleeping on a sofa at 4 am. Shake your head at the fight that his mother got into at a baby shower the day before – arguing about seating, turning tables over -- that precipitated the revenge shooting.

And don’t just shake your head at the murder of 12-year-old Kadejah Davis by a 19-year old who shot through the front door of her house.   Shake your head at what led up to the violence:

“A 19-year-old Detroiter was accused this month of killing 12-year-old Kadejah Davis when his mother allegedly brought him to help her settle an argument over a cellphone with the victim’s mother. Joshua Brown allegedly fired shots through the home’s front door that struck the girl. He is charged with first-degree murder and his mother, Heather Brown, is charged as an accessory.”

I’d echo Mayor Bing that it may be too late to start disciplining your kid, when you’re the one chauffering him to finish your childish argument with another “adult” over a cellphone and you know he’s packing a firearm.

Then there’s the 14-year-old who murdered his mother after a feud about sneaking out with his friends. I don’t know what kind of shotgun he was using, but shooting her ten to 12 times meant having to go to the trouble of stopping to reload – repeatedly.

The Detroit News describes a 6-year old in critical condition after being “caught in a hail of indiscriminately fired bullets” during an attempted carjacking.  But they weren’t indiscriminate: the two 15-year-old thugs who fired into the car the child was riding in were outraged that their attempted carjacking wasn’t going as well as they’d hoped.

And what city did Bing mmistake himself for being mayor of when he appealed to “mothers and fathers”  to discipline their kids, whennearly 80-percent of Detroit children born with no daddy’s name on the birth certificate”?

Appealing to Detroit’s adults to set a better example is a laughable suggestion if any of the the adults include the seven grown women punching and kicking each other and security guards at the Motor City Casino last week.

Some Michigan politicians are suggesting a tough new law that imposes a mandatory life sentence for killing someone by shooting into an occupied house.  That sounds right.  But do the kind of people who’ve been drenching Detroit in blood all month really strike anyone as capable of having the kind of forethought a law like that might restrain?

When life is this cheap, when parents and other community elders are passing on to children the lesson that anger and revenge are to be nurtured and acted out rather than resisted, all the community policing the city can afford isn’t going to do any good.

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