I said it in my last While You Were Sleeping and I'll say it again: you can't just hashtag things and get upset when young Black men are killed by just the police. 12 year old Jason Spears of San Bernardino (on the right) was shot and killed while his 14 year old cousin Terrance Spears was wounded last Sunday night. Jason's aunt had to point out that the boys were not gang affiliated. “We sit at our house. We talk to our neighbors. That's it. Now my sister has to bury her 12-year-old son. For what? Because he went to the store to get some chips?”
At 10pm a dark colored SUV opened fire on the boys. Police are checking all available cameras to get a lead on the shooter. After being shot the boys managed to run to a nearby store. Jason died while Terrance called for help inside the store. Elsa Castro (sometimes listed as Elisa) that was at the store at the time said “I seen the other little boy go inside limping because he was shot in the leg and the other one collapsed right here on his jaw. I turned him over and was telling him, 'Please baby boy, breathe' I just don't understand why they would do this.”
Another issue that is coming out in the wake of this shooting is the response time of law enforcement. Paramedics and firemen are stationed less than 200 feet where the boys were shot but they had to wait about eight minutes for police to arrive which means that was eight minutes the boys were hurt and dying while having no help. I know it sounds crazy, because it is and isn't at once, but during violent crimes you have to wait until police arrive. A lieutenant also pointed out that the fact that there was a shift change during the time of the shooting may have led to a smaller response time. Good information to put out there for criminals. There were also cutbacks a few years ago and their budget was slashed in half.
Castro also added in a critique of the response time “They're firefighters, they need to work within the minute, seconds, right? They didn't. They're right across the street and could have run to the boy. A fire department spokesperson responded saying “We don't know if there are people running around with guns still shooting. We're not trained in those situations.” I see a slippery slope where citizens start declaring that their EMT's and firemen have the same training as police. “Give 'em weapons! We want everyone that could be involved in our children and/or saving lives to have the ability to protect them with weapons!” You all remember after that Sandy Hook shooting how everyone wanted teachers to have weapons?
There are a few things about this story that bother me other than the fact that a kid was shot and another killed. One is that the only picture I am able to find is of these boys holding their fingers like a gun (could be just pointing but I am a master of visual subtlety) and a West Side hand gesture. Another is the response time. Another is the fact that kids were out so late. Another is the fact that stupid ass gangs are still a thing. How is this still a thing?!
There is a quote from the classic film The Warriors where Cyrus is speaking to all of the gangs in the city. Well, not The Orphans because they suck and no one invited them. But Cyrus gives a great speech that if I were in an actual gang and heard I'd go “Well...shit. He's right. We're doing this for nothing.” This is the kind of shit that a lot of young Black men and gang members don't want to admit.
In the speech he says “The problem in the past has been the man turning us against one another. We have been unable to see the truth, because we have fighting for ten square feet of ground, our turf, our little piece of turf. That's crap, brothers! The turf is ours by right, because it's our turn. All we have to do is keep up the general truce. We take over one borough at a time. Secure our territory...secure our turf...because it's all our turf!” If you are in a gang that has the task of shooting children or anyone that looks like you there is a really good chance that you have made a terrible life decision that isn't too late to change.
Click here for previous While You Were Sleeping.