By Vernon A. Williams
Make no mistake. These are tense times in America and around the world. There are school children committing suicide rather than live with bullying (child suicide rates are spiraling) and innocent children maimed or brutalized by parents and caretakers in alarmingly increasing numbers. Crime on the street and at high levels of corporate and governmental America only exacerbate the problem.
Clearly, the nation’s leadership tosses fuel onto the flame on a daily basis – trying to play to a racist base while ignoring the overall welfare of a nation stressed out. Sometimes for the nonbelievers and those who knowingly reject the truth, you have to lay out examples of this sad reality to prevent their escape of responsibility. These are just a few of the horrendous news stories that bummed out America is the past few weeks alone:
An investigation has been launched into D.C. white police officers placing a 9-year-old Black child in handcuffs. The disturbing incident occurred April 22 and like many, it was caught on video. Police chased the boy, then after falling, grabbed and handcuffed him like a common criminal with stunned onlookers asking aloud, “What did he do?” Apparently, he leaned on a police squad car and popped off when asked to get off. If that is true, he misbehaved and should face parental discipline. But handcuffs? No charges.
A white rapist will serve no jail time. Michael Wysolovski of Duluth, Georgia met a 16-year-old-girl at a facility for people struggling with anorexia, then forced her to endure his sexual fantasies for a year. He kept her locked in a dog cage where in addition to the assaults, the victim suffered back injuries and ringworm. Rape and aggravated sodomy charges were dropped in plea bargaining. Instead, he pled guilty to first-degree cruelty to children and interstate interference with custody. His 10-year sentence will be served as probation.
The Archdiocese of New York, the second largest diocese in the nation identified 120 priests and deacons accused of sexually abusing children or being in possession of child pornography in the latest revelations in the Catholic Church’s long-running sex abuse epidemic. The list includes Theodore McCarrick, the defrocked once-powerful U.S. cardinal. The latest wave of scandals is spurring police investigations, roiled the faithful and damaged the institutions moral credibility.
Florida Broward County Sheriff’s Police Officers Christopher Krickovich and Sgt. Greg LaCerra have been suspended with pay after being caught on video pepper spraying, tackling and punching a Black Florida teenager in a violent takedown last month. Ultimately, there were no charges filed against the beating victim arrested, DeLucca Rolle, who suffered a broken nose during the violent encounter with police. Rolle had been charged with striking an officer and resisting arrest.
Hundreds of students staged a walkout at Homewood-Flossmoor High School outside Chicago, Illinois this week in response to social media posts showing three fellow students in blackface. Photos and videos surfaced last weekend, sparking outrage among students and parents. School leaders are being called on to take action against those involved. Protests gained steam after it was reported that despite the fact that the culprits were identified, there would be no official action taken against them by school or district administration.
A New York man who admitted to raping a 14-year-old girl he met while driving a school bus will spend no time in jail for the crime. Shane Piche, 26, of Watertown, N.Y. was sentenced to 10 years probation, according to WWNY-TV in Carthage, N.Y. In addition, the judge ruled that Piche be registered as a level one rather than level two offender – concluding that it was his first rape and that he did not seem to have the propensity to be a repeat offender. The offense took place in Piche’s home and, of course, he is no longer a bus driver,
Meanwhile, 19-year-old John T. Earnest entered a plea of not guilty to charges that he went into a synagogue just outside of San Diego last week with high-powered weapons blasting and shot five people, including one woman who lost her life. Lori Gilbert Kaye was reportedly shot and killed as she wedged between the gunman and the rabbi during the blood bath. Prosecutor Leonard Trish who handles hate crimes indicated that he will seek the death penalty or life without parole.
So what is the point to this sad, devastating recap of some of the worst news of the past month? Simple. As we ponder what to do globally, locally, and politically, we need to be first, informed. That requires delineating points of disorder to contribute to the national malaise. Then we need to counteract where it is possible. Address judges who are too lenient, cops who are too violent, parents who are too irresponsible, media too profit driven, corporate executives too greedy and government too nonresponsive.
We need watch groups at every level in every area of concern. And we need serious organization and an agenda for change as we approach 2020. It’s not sufficient to simply be angered by bad news. And the cycle is self-perpetuating if we ignore it. We have to be aware and be relentless in strategizing to forge pervasive, sustainable change.
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].