I sit here weeping, thinking about what I’ve learned over the past 2 weeks. I’m blubbering thinking about how different my life is from people who live only 20 minutes from me. Today I, along with 11 others, found a 21 year old guilty of 3 felonies: Attempt Murder, Shooting a firearm into an inhabited dwelling, & Assault with a deadly weapon. I learned about the rivalries between gangs, the difference between a gang and a “tagging crew”, I found about retaliation, and what it means to have a “green light” put out on your life. The kids in this case — because they are just children to me — have grown up since the shooting on 12/3/2009. One has sat in jail, the other had to move himself & his girlfriend to a new town to avoid the green light immediately after getting out of the ICU. And for what? Nothing. There was no reason for this to happen. So senseless. Senseless violence that I’ve never had to experience in my 32 years of life.
A main witness – a 12-year old boy – was flown in from Mexico to testify. He was scared — a small boy with a dark mustache trying to peek through. What will become of him, living in this house where the victim was shot? Living in the same place where his “uncle” disrespected the gang member. Living in the same house where his uncle thought he was “passing away already”? “F#ck I don’t want to die.” It’s too young. It’s too senseless.
I weep not just for the victim and his family, and my gratefulness that he is willing to put his life on the line day in & day out to “make him pay”.
I weep for the shooter. What made him grow up thinking that he needed to associate with the gang? What made him thing that that was how to get ahead in the world?
I weep for his parents, who sobbed large, laborious sobs in the courtroom as the verdict was read. “Guilty.” “Guilty.” “Guilty.” One for each of the 3 counts. Up to a lifetime in jail. What could they have done? How could they have done things differently? Apparently his attorney was one of the best in the county. Apparently he was VERY expensive. How does life go so wrong?
As I drove home, in the comforting bubble of my car, I knew that would never be me. Would never be my kids. Would never be the people that I hang out with. My streets are tree-lined. There are no bullets in my foyer, embedded into the walls. But then again — what if it is? What if the senseless violence follows?