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Americans are enduring the most stressful period in decades

By Vernon A. Williams

“Mother, mother, there’s too many of you crying, Brother, brother, brother, there’s far too many of you dying.”

“What’s Going On” Marvin Gaye

Whether you are man, woman or child, if you haven’t shed a tear over the past two years, then I suggest you get a physical to see if you still have a pulse. It doesn’t matter how cool, or hard, or cold, or sanctified, or aloof, or nonchalant, or controlled, or dismissive you are – these are trying times.

Most know someone who has lost a relative, friend, neighbor, colleague, business associate, fellow parishioner, or social acquaintance over the past year.

Natural deaths are no less painful for those closest to the deceased. For some it was their advanced age, other persons succumbed to short- or long-term illness or disease. Though glad suffering is ended, parting is still – as the poet writes – such sweet sorrow. Then there are sudden losses from accidents or catastrophes. These cuts run deep.

Most ominous is murder, which is in a category by itself. Few things are more devastating than trying to come to grips with the fact that another human being willfully took the life of a person near and dear to you. The first warm weekend of 2019 in Chicago left six dead. In Indianapolis, seven people were victims of homicide over a 24-hour period.

That brand and extent of such excruciating barbarism is numbing. Like clockwork, it is followed by grieving, anger, prayer circles, candlelight vigils, marches, angry rants, protests, media, demonstrations, finger-pointing and empty promises – a vicious cycle.

Consider the heart-wrenching tragedy of Kevin “Bo” Battle, a 57-year-old African American grandfather shot and killed in an apparent dispute with a white neighbor accused of using a racial slur to his grandson. The shooting occurred March 25, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. To date, there has been no arrest of the shooter, Mark Jabben, because investigating detectives believe evidence supports claims of self-defense.

Kevin Battle
Kevin “Bo” Battle

Family, friends and sympathizers are circulating petitions pushing for justice in this case. As of last Sunday, well over 3,500 signatures have been collected with that number rising daily. Meanwhile, the Fort Worth Police Department says the case has been turned over to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office with their briefing to submit to a grand jury.

Battle and Jabben share a duplex with their front doors less than two feet apart. When police arrived, they found Battle lying at the door of Jabben’s door with bullet wounds to the head – one from behind. Battle was holding the hand of his grandchild during the brief but apparently heated discussion.

After being struck by the first bullet, Battle turned to protect his grandson and was shot a second time in the back of the head. His son, Kevin Battle II, reportedly witnessed the assault from inside the residence, rushed out, pulled his son to safety then called 911.

Texas has “stand your ground” legislation that enables the accused to remain free if police believe evidence corroborates claims of self-defense. Many sense an impending white-wash in the case and want to make certain authorities are aware that people are watching.

Kevin Battle was an East Chicago, IN native. He attended Indiana University – Bloomington where he pledged Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. He was a devout family man, eagerly anticipating the birth of his daughter’s child. He celebrated his 57th birthday March 17th just over a week before being shot and killed confronting a white neighbor over using the word ‘nigger’ speaking to his 5-year-old grandson.

If you want to sign or spread the petition, go to the petition titled: “Demand Fort Worth, TX Investigate and Prosecute the Murderer of Kevin ‘Bo’ Battle.”

The pervasive heartbreak and misery across the country is not limited to killing and dying. Most surveyed recently believe that we are living in a meaner-spirited America.

White nationalism and paramilitary organization memberships are up. Brutal, heartless inhumanities are increasingly heaped on people living their everyday lives – becoming a constant threat in America. Whether it’s the torching or hateful debasing of a mosque, synagogue or church or spiraling bigotry, bullying or road rage, the vitriol is palpable.

Sadly, the children are suffering demonstratively more than in past years. Emergency room visits for children who had thoughts of suicide or had attempted suicide have doubled in the past decade, according to a nationally representative study released.

An analysis of United States emergency room data from 2007 to 2015 found that annual visits for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among children age 5 to 18 nearly doubled — from 580,000 to 1.12 million.

And a significant portion of children who were taken to the emergency department were young: Approximately 43% of visits for suicidal thoughts or attempts were among children between the ages of 5 and 12. “These numbers are very alarming,” study author Dr. Brett Burstein, an emergency department physician at the Montreal Children’s Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, told HuffPost.

This is not to trumpet doom and gloom. But it is a plea for awakening – to sound the alarm. It is time out for business as usual in the United States. While the administration obsesses with phantom security threats at the Mexico border, the nation desperately needs more serious and urgent focus on ominous, genuine threats within.

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION  by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society.Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].

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