Wednesday, November 4, 2009
A seventh suspect has been arrested in the infamous Richmond, California gang rape. It this horrible incident, a fifteen year old girl attending a homecoming dance was gang raped by up to ten individuals over a 2 1/2 hour time period in a dimly lit and notorious hangout on school grounds. Up to twenty people looked on, cheered, taunted and took cell phone videos and pictures of the October 24 attack. It was only when a girlfriend of one of the onlookers heard about the attack from her boyfriend that the police were finally called. One perp was found at the scene. The information he gave led to others being arrested
What has gotten a lot of press in the aftermath was the shock and outrage of members of the Richmond community, from students to parents and people in the community at large.
What gets less press coverage is the undercurrent of sympathy for the perpetrators, some of whom have bemoaned their fate on various social networking sites. There have also been reports of girls who "asked too many questions" being threatened in the corridors of the high school, which reports a 69% truancy rate. One San Francisco blog includes a My Space screen shot with semi literate expressions of unabashed support and love from girlfriends, family members and other gang members.
In reading accounts of the Richmond gang rape aftermath, I am trying to harmonise the outpouring of sympathy, the frank admissions that the community has a problem, and the open solidarity with the perpetrators.
The only possible answer is that the Richmond community is in the midst of what is effectively a civil war, comparable in some ways to what Iraq is experiencing. The gang members and criminal elements have effectively held the community hostage. Solving this crime will not be the end of this story. Police need to focus on the subculture in which this violent behavior flourishes. A network of informants must be cultivated, with a keen eye to confidentiality and protection.
One of the encouraging signs of societal health coming out of Richmond is the news that gang members in the community are trying to beat the police in locating suspects so they can administer "street justice." It is common knowledge that police are perfunctory about solving certain crimes. They might well want to put vigilante justice for this crime on their "perfunctory list." Quite often police will put heat on gangs and criminal elements until they give up information about particularly awful crimes.
The people who are expressing solidarity with the perpetrators should be put under tight surveillance. If there are illegal immigrants involved, they should be imprisoned and their family members who are illegal aliens should be deported. This would bring about peer pressure from the families of perpetrators and would be perpetrators to avoid bringing heat down on the whole family by staying out of trouble.
The other thing that should be done is to have the child protective services open files on known gang members. If word gets out that having a gang member in the family brings child welfare down on your family, that can be an incentive for those who are legal residents to take a more active role in parenting and to get help with tough situations.
The perpetrators of this gang rape deserve the harshest sentence possible. There is a healthy place for revenge that is channeled through the judicial system. Once you establish that certain crimes are treated with crushing harshness, you can then reach out to those who are afflicted with risk factors such as poverty and broken families. A distinction has to be made between the law abiding poor and those who have turned to crime. to treat violent and merciless youth in the same manner as those who have made better moral choices invites contempt and creates a randomness of consequences.
This crime should be considered an act of war, just as was Pearl Harbor. The law abiding majority should feel the love, concern and protectiveness of society at large. The lawless and violent should feel ruthless determination and a complete lack of mercy.
What is far too entrenched is the attitude of contempt for women, along with the other prejudices that enabled 30 men to dehumanise and degrade a woman without a single voice of protest. Those families that are intact enough to make a difference along with the churches and youth organisations have their work cut out for them.
Richmond California is a divided city in which too many good people live in fear. It is as in need of liberation as any country that was ever invaded by the US. Ultimately, they must free themselves. But we must not forget them after all have been tried and sentenced who brought Richmond into national infamy. It may be up to them to free themselves. But they must not stand alone. Sphere: Related Content