"In the past four months, three teenagers -- all with ties to the Central District -- have been shot to death in killings that police are increasingly attributing to gang violence. The most recent was 14-year-old De'Che Morrison, who bled to death behind a car in Rainier Valley on Thursday, shot in the abdomen."
At least 2 of the boys attended Cleveland High at some point. All 3 had gang affiliations in some way. Here's what De'Che's father had to say:
"He was just a freshman in high school," Scott said. "All this stuff happened so fast, only in the last few months. A few weeks ago, I sat him down and we had a long talk. I could see in his face that he was tired, that he'd had enough of the streets. He said, 'Dad, I want to go back to school.'
Tired of the streets by 14? It's heartbreaking.
From the police:
'Gang investigators say teens are drawn to such Web sites as MySpace, where self-professed gangsters pose, often with sexy women at their side.
"There is so much access to the Internet and MySpace, and the glorification of gangs is there for them to see," said Lt. Ron Wilson, who heads the Seattle Police Department's gang unit."
This I would believe. If you feel unloved or insecure and there are people your age (or older - we all remember the lure of the "older" kids in high school) and you see them on MySpace looking great and having guns, maybe it's tempting. At that age you feel invincible.
There's a lot that ties this to all of us because, of course, nothing happens in a vacum. We all know if it had been 3 north-end boys killed in 4 months, there'd be a huge outcry. (This is not to say that people don't care or don't notice but somehow we accept it as a south-end problem.)
The City of Seattle has joined some other big cities and the association of mayors to file a friend of the court opinion that the U.S. Supreme Court uphold Washington D.C.'s long-time ban on handguns in a case currently before the Court. This is one of the first tests for the Second Amendment that has appeared before the Court. Seattle, and the other major cities, say that they bear a disproportionate share of the outcomes of gun violence. What the Court decides by summer will likely affect every single person in the U.S.We have too many guns in this country, both legal and illegal. The genie's out of the bottle and there's no going back. But can we limit access to what's out there? Make it harder for teens to get guns, whatever the reason (suicide, gang violence, etc.)? Chris Rock has a crude, profane and terrifically funny DVD of one of his HBO specials where he rants about guns and gun violence. He says we should make each bullet cost $5,000. Why? Because then there'd be no innocent bystanders. People who wanted to kill each other would have to get a second job and save up for that one bullet. He's very funny when he says this but at a certain level he's right. Can't control the guns? Control the ammo.
Another issue for us, closer to home, is the assignment period we are now in for SPS. How does it relate to gang violence in the south-end? Well, if you had the choice and the opportunity, wouldn't you want your high school student at a school where that is less likely to happen? Yup and you'd likely go north. I had thought that maybe with Garfield reopening and the Southeast Initiative in full swing that maybe Roosevelt and Ballard might not be so popular. I think it's wishful thinking because safety trumps every other concern for a parent. And, given that Hale is going to take 3 years to renovate and be on-site (not a particularly great selling point) and that Roosevelt is likely to take fewer freshman, it's going to be a tough year for assignments.