We learn much about the latest victim, much about youth programming, nothing about . . . you guessed it
The sign of the times is not what we know, it is what we don’t know, what we don’t learn.
One morning this week we picked up the Denver Post and learned that four different teenagers have been killed in the previous seven days and 10 so far this year, more than in all of 2019.
The story focused on the latest killing.
We learned that the victim, Davarie Armstrong, was 17, that he was a good student, a great athlete, a mentor to younger kids. Of course, even if he did not have these qualities, his death would have been a tragedy. We learned from the story how terrible and senseless his death was.
We learned that he was not part of an altercation or gang dispute. He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We learned that the pandemic is particularly difficult for cooped-up teenagers, that jobs are scarce, that organized summer activity is canceled.
We learned of the pressing need for “violence prevention.”
We learned, “a resurgent civil rights movement focused on racism, create[s] a seemingly inescapable source of stress, especially for Black and Hispanic youth.”
Accordingly, we learned that in the view of community members and anti-violence activists more city resources need to be put into teen programs in general and summer programs in particular.
We learned that the activists believe that a lot of funding is needed, in part so that the various anti-violence efforts do not end up fighting amongst themselves how to divide up not enough funds to go around.
We learned that Mayor Hancock tweeted, “We cannot stand by while violence overwhelms our neighborhoods. We must wrap our arms around our youth, like we’ve never done before, come together in solidarity to begin the true work of healing.”
We learned that the co-founder of Athletics and Beyond, which provides life skills training and off-season athletic programs, said, “Do you die in the hands of the authorities? Or is it someone with bad intentions who lives in the same place you do that might kill you?”
We learned from the headline over the report in the Post that all these teen deaths constitute an emergency.
This is what we did not learn:
Whether the police were called.
Whether the killer was identified.
Whether an arrest of the killer was made.
Whether there were eye-witnesses to the shooting that could aid in the arrest of the killer.
Whether, if an arrest was made, the accused killed was a teenager or someone entirely unrelated to the teen scene — that is, whether this was teen-on-teen or a gang-on-teen crime, or whether it was something else.
We did not learn anything about the police in relation to this killing.
We did not learn whether anything besides “wrapping our arms around our youth” and “healing” was done or even contemplated by the mayor of Denver.
We did not learn whether, when “violence overwhelms our neighborhoods,” the violent people need to be pursued, arrested and tried.
In this newspaper report, it is as if the police are irrelevant, as if the judicial system is irrelevant, as if the identity and detention of the killer(s) is irrelevant, as if the entire solution to teen violence is programming for teens, and as if it were a given that “the authorities” kill people.
We did not learn why “violence prevention” is limited to the establishment of “safe zones” and similar responses, entirely detached from the law enforcement and judicial systems.
We did not learn why“a resurgent civil rights movement focused on racism,” which creates “a seemingly inescapable source of stress, especially for Black and Hispanic youth,” is a good thing.
We did not learn that, in the view of the reporter or of anyone quoted in the report, the killing of Davarie Armstrong or of the others constituted crimes.
We also did not learn the race of the latest killer. Now, we believe that the race of killers is irrelevant. Murder is murder. It can be neither exacerbated nor mitigated by the killer’s race. Murder is evil, it is wrong. All murderers need to be prosecuted and, if found guilty, punished severely. But in the current environment, when the identification of the race of a killer is deemed especially relevant, this newspaper report did not name the race of the killer.
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