Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Good News About Jolesa's Murder

“I can imagine that [there is] the perception that [gang violence is on the rise] …. Because you have two incidents that are relatively close together that involve young kids,” said Sgt. Mona Wallace. “As far as I can tell, there’s not a real upsurge.”

Hmmm. Seems like a lot of good “surge” news lately. The Surge in Iraq is working. And there doesn’t seem to be an Upsurge here.

Well, whether it is gang-related or not, it appears to my eye at least that violent, senseless crime is on the increase here in Pittsburgh. Our own Mayor Ravenstahl would disagree with that statement, however. In his Dec 20 inaugural address, Luke said 2007 has been “the safest year for our citizens in more than 40 years.”

Tell that to the family, friends and loved ones of Ernest Tolliver, 15 and Jolesa Barber, 12 pictured above. Jolesa was killed by a spray of bullets which pummeled the home of a relative she was visiting. And Ernest was shot, in front of his mother and sister, as they waited in a fast food drive-thru lane.

How and why does Luke think things are so rosy? Because Luke is making strides at mastering Governor Rendell’s “Law of Selectivity”. Simply stated, the Law of Selectivity says if you don’t like that which stands before you ….. Simply parse, cherry-pick, re-arrange, blend or fabricate until you come upon something that is pleasing enough to the taste and will be eventually swallowed by enough voters to be re-elected.

Luke declared our city to be the safest in 40 years by first looking at raw crime numbers which are down. True, our city’s total population is half of what it was 40 years ago, so it would be logical to expect that with half the people, you’d have half the crime. But the beauty of the Law of Selectivity is that it allows us to laud the dramatic decrease in crime numbers without considering that half the city has moved away.

Ravenstahl fabricated further good news. He told us the combined number of homicides, robberies, rapes, arsons, aggravated assaults, thefts, motor vehicle thefts and burglaries are down from previous years. True, but if you look at the number of violent crimes all by themselves ….not lumped together with car thefts …. We have a definite “surge” of violent crime.

Jolesa and Ernest were cut down before they had a chance at anything. Cut down just sitting around doing normal, boring everyday things like visiting friends or waiting for their food. Are we at all comforted by the fact that these two lives were snuffed out at the hands of gang members but that gang crime is down this year? Would we be more comforted yet if they had been killed by a crackhead flying solo, with no affiliation to any gang or group? Maybe even a crackhead from out-of-state? Are crimes committed by crackheads from out-of-state included in any of Ravenstahl’s stats or would those just selectively be placed in some other category?

Whoever did what belonging to whatever affiliation … two kids are dead. It is an ugly horrible thing. Let’s quit trying to find the best spin and put our efforts into making it go away. This isn’t Baghdad …. This is Pittsburgh.

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