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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sad and avoidable

I don't wanna turn into my dad too early. I don't have enough gray yet.

But we experienced another juvenile homicide in South Florida last night. A 17-year-old girl sitting in a car was shot and killed in a drive-by at nearly 3 a.m. in the city of North Miami Beach.

It is beyond tragic that another kid was killed, but I couldn't help but think immediately, "What the hell was she doing out at that time?"

Time of day doesn't justify the shooting, in case there are numbnuts out there who think I'm giving the killer a pass.

But, random acts of violence being the exception, so much bad, evil, dangerous behavior could be avoided if we would just steer clear.

It ain't rocket science. Unless you're grown you don't have any business on the street at that time of night. There just isn't a whole lot of sanity going around at 3 a.m. that justifies a kid being outside her home. No matter how innocent your intentions might be somebody else - somebody you may be completely unaware of - is lurking nearby and is up to no good.

Sure, sure there are always extenuating circumstances - tough lives, tough neighborhoods, etc. But some stuff is avoidable.

The victim was a kid. She should have been home and in bed (alone), or if she wanted to be up late 'cause it was a weekend, on the couch watching a late movie or something.

And anyone who thinks I'm being too uptight about this, before you write as much in a comment think hard about how you'd feel if this was your daughter, granddaughter, or niece, or if it had been you at that age.

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26 Comments:

  • All I do at 3 a.m. is blog or drool into my pillow.

    By Blogger mist1, at 1:11 AM  

  • I feel ya. If I'm not sleeping so I can stay pretty, I'm writing. I still go out. But really, is there anything my buddies can't say to me at the bar before say midnight or something? Seriously, it is a cliche, but the only folks always on street at that time are cops, pimps, prostitutes, dealers, and stickup kids. The cops I salute. But I'm not trying to be out so late that I risk running into anyone on that list.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:21 AM  

  • Let me add, before I stick my foot in my mouth, that being married I have other reasons to be at home at that time of night too: not just avoid the trouble outside, but 'cause I enjoy the company inside.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:32 AM  

  • That is indeed sad and tragic to say the least. NOTHING good ever happens out at 3 am but kids aren't the only ones. How many times have to seen "(enter celeb name here) got robbed,shot,caught drinking and driving, at 3 am?"

    BD

    By Blogger briliantdonkey, at 2:16 AM  

  • I wonder about the kids who work late at fast food places etc...

    By Blogger Pamela, at 2:44 AM  

  • "But we experienced another juvenile homicide in South Florida last night. A 17-year-old girl sitting in a car was shot and killed in a drive-by at nearly 3 a.m. in the city of North Miami Beach".

    That's really sad and scary stuff. Sometimes when I'm driving home from work at 3:00 am. I see women walking alone on the dark side streets. What are they thinking? It's crazy behavior.

    Another sad note: A little girl in the 7th grade got struck by automobile and killed while waiting for the school bus the other day here in Louisville. So much to worry about!

    By Blogger captain corky, at 5:34 AM  

  • Don't worry, James, showing an increase in compassion doesn't necessitate turning into one's dad too early. Just realize that "dad turning" is both sad and UNavoidable.

    By Anonymous The Sarcasticynic, at 6:25 AM  

  • I agree that almost nothing good ever happens at that time of night and you should avoid being out, but I have to second Pamela here.

    I worked in restaurants and bars for many years and could often be found out and about before and after a swing shift or closing up after last call.

    But still, I guess that doesn't really explain why a 16 year old would be out at that hour. That poor kid, I hope they catch the bastard who did that.

    By Blogger QofD, at 9:59 AM  

  • I know I'm turning into my dad a bit when I get the urge to tell those "goddamned kids" to "get the hell off my lawn!"

    I think there's a difference between conservative and common sense, which is what your opinion bespeaks. After living in hardcore DC for a few years, what I like about my neighborhood in Arlington, VA, is seeing pretty young women out at 3 a.m. and knowing that I am the most dangerous animal on the street.

    By Blogger Matt, at 10:46 AM  

  • My dad thinks he has yet to turn into HIS dad, btw.

    My grandfather died at the age of 75 and my father is 73 and still refers to him as "The Old Man."

    By Blogger Matt, at 10:48 AM  

  • If my kid needed money so badly that they had to work a late shift and come home at 3am - I'd either pick them up at the end of the shift, or get another job myself.

    What's so bad about being like your Dad?

    I stay out late all the time with my friends, but very rarely am I alone, and I always ask for a male friend or two to walk me to my car at the end of the night. When I was a teenager living in NYC, I regularly took the train home at 1am and walked back to my place from there. Why? Because there were tons of people around at that time of the morning, normal, non-threatening people who also liked to stay out late. Of course, my mom would've peed her pants had she known...

    By Blogger bc, at 2:02 PM  

  • My Mom always said that nothing good ever happens after midnight. I'm sorry this story proved her point.

    By Anonymous 123Valerie, at 3:49 PM  

  • I agree, nothing good happens that late. My folks were extra protective and sheltered me so that I didn't get to know anyone in my neighborhood. So I have a profound lack of social skills. But then I think of all the trouble out there, and sometimes I'm glad I don't socialize. This kind of fate for me is what my folks were trying to avoid in their own unique way. And yes, that girl had no business whatsoever in the streets that late, social skills or not.

    By Blogger Dre, at 7:49 PM  

  • I remember being a teen and sneaking home at 3/4am. I thought I was so slick..then the next day, mom..."so, what time did you get home?" "uhm...late..." "like 3?" "you know, it could have been!" Then I got the big lecture on what people would have thought if anything had gone wrong...but my mom was more worried about me getting stopped by the cops than getting killed.

    By Blogger Claudia, at 8:57 PM  

  • I'm with you there, James. Just cos a 17yo has a car & can drive it safely - there are some, doesn't mean it is safe for them to be out at that time of night. Even if they are 'night owl' types, even if they have a black belt in karate & motor maintenance.

    Having said which, as the mother of a very independent teen, it isn't always that easy getting them to come in! She survived, so did we, just!

    By Anonymous bronchitikat, at 5:26 AM  

  • its so sad. i think about all the things shes going to miss in life.

    funny thing is people are gonna look at her parents and be like "why was she out so late?" and for all we know, she could have snuck out. 17 year old girls do that shit. hasn't anyone seen the movie HAVOC????

    By Blogger Yasamin, at 9:00 AM  

  • As my mother used to say "ain't nuthin' open after midnight but legs". That, of course, made me excited about being out after midnight, but it was also her way of saying that I, as a minor, had no buisiness outside of the house after that time (or really after 11 pm)
    Nothing wromg with being a little old skool, JB. I am an apologist for young people because it is rarely all their fault when they get into trouble--it is their parent's fault. We always want to blame a silly 16 or 17 year old as if they were an adult instead of directing blame where it should lie--on their adult parents. Parents don't take enough personal shame when a product of their body has become something the world could do without. I blame that partially on our consequence-free society, but the great weight of that shame should rest on the family who has allowed their child to go astray.

    This slain child is another is a great sad and sorrowful list of children with potential whose lives were cut down before we could give them their adult names. People do not become who they are until well into adulthood, which is why it's even more distressing. If 40 is the new 30 and 30 is the new 20 then these children haven't gotten to adolescence. Because of us.

    We should all be ashamed and crying right now. This child's life should carry some resonance in our hearts until we atone for our lack of action. We can all do this by mentoring a child, refusing to let bad deeds go unpunished and living a righteous life that sets the example for our community. Jim Brown. Shirley Chisolm. Maynard Jackson.

    We are our parents now and we can't afford to lose ourselves in their increasingly selfish materialism. That is really why that child is dead. Nobody related to her by blood was selfless enough to make themselves into an asshole for her sake. I can only hope that I can be asshole enough to save these other kids who get more advice than guidance from their peeps.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 10:34 AM  

  • Do you really think that being out late is why this kid was murdered? I'm a little surprised by the "out late = danger" argument. There are plenty of places where the people out late are dangerous. And there are plenty of places where the people out late are NOT dangerous.

    The issue is more complicated than this, of course. I just think that the parents of this young woman are truly responsible for this, and that staying inside does not guarantee a life of safety.

    By Blogger bc, at 11:11 AM  

  • We are our parents now and we can't afford to lose ourselves in their increasingly selfish materialism. That is really why that child is dead. Nobody related to her by blood was selfless enough to make themselves into an asshole for her sake.

    okay i have a big mouth and i say shit all the time. today, im not feelin up to an arguement but i will say this... you, Big Daddy do not know that girl's family. You have no idea why she was out late. you were not there. Who are you to say that her family wasn't selfless enough?

    thats just not cool man. really. a young girl is dead and all people do is point fingers.

    When i was 17, my mother was hardcore strict! that woman weilded a wooden spoon like a freaking sword and i paid dearly for mistakes i made. But i also snuck out. If i would have died one of those nights, would you have blamed my mother for not being selfless enough too even though i made the choice to defy her rule?

    generalizing this into a social issue doesn't cure anything of the fact that there is a mother crying right now because her young daughter is dead.

    there. NUFF SAID.

    By Blogger Yasamin, at 11:44 AM  

  • I'm visiting Miami Beach in Feb. for a conference. Do I need Kevlar?

    By Blogger Christina_the_wench, at 12:45 PM  

  • I have to agree with Yas...you can't blame the parents without knowing the full story. Like I said, I would go out and stay out...what was my mom going to do about it? ground me? fine. She couldn't keep me grounded forever. While I never did sneak out, I knew a lot of kids that did. What's next? Bars on the bedroom window? The fact of the matter is that these things happen. Yes, it's sad, but she could also have been 25...and then what? would it have made it ok? would people have been blaming her parents then? or would people have said that maybe she was looking for trouble being out that late...or would they have just said, what a shame. What about the kids that live in bad neighborhoods and are killed by stray bullets that enter their house?
    bottom line...she's dead because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't see that anyone's to blame except for the a**wipe that pulled the trigger.

    By Blogger Claudia, at 1:06 PM  

  • BC, I don't think being out late equals her being killed. I think a dirty rotten murderer is why she's dead. And sure, there is danger all around us at all hours of the day. But - maybe this is the old-fashioned side of me - I think maybe there's a little more trouble lurking out there at that time of night. The victim should've been at home, not in a car outside a boyfriend's house. That's not to say a stray bullet couldn't have found her through the walls of her parents' home. But I'm just guessing her odds would have been better.

    BD, I understand the sentiment. But Claudia and Yas, your point is well taken. My folks had strict curfew rules too. I'd hate to have seen them blamed if I'd slipped out of the house after curfew and gotten hurt or killed.

    I will say this though, in BD's defense. As these things arise - children dying like this, and we all search for solutions, I think it's a fair question to ask how involved the parents were.

    Not trying to condemn them or anything. But it's a fair question to ask. We can Monday Morning Quarterback after our home team loses a football game. But we're afraid to look backwards and ask how or why when a kid is murdered? I say we shouldn't be. We should be sensitive and concerned and sorrowful for the family's loss. But can't hurt to ask what/why/how? Maybe some other parent will see it and adjust their playbook for dealing with their own kid.

    And Christina, I think you'll be alright. There's no denying that random acts of violence happen down here...and in any neighborhood. But, like I said in this post, a lot of trouble can be avoided if we just avoid it (or the areas where it seems to happen most often).

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:33 PM  

  • I didn't mean that quite so literally ...I meant to say that living a sheltered life doesn't guarantee anything. Yes, there are clear steps we can all take to make ourselves safer. One of those things is to associate ourselves with healthy people, most of whom will likely enjoy staying up late because it's fun, and not because it's easier to hide in the dark.

    By Blogger bc, at 2:01 PM  

  • I didn't mean that quite so literally ...I meant to say that living a sheltered life doesn't guarantee anything. Yes, there are clear steps we can all take to make ourselves safer. One of those things is to associate ourselves with healthy people, most of whom will likely enjoy staying up late because it's fun, and not because it's easier to hide in the dark.

    By Blogger bc, at 2:01 PM  

  • Yasamin--I'm not overlooking the fact that she was 17, may have been tying to act grown, and was out without knowledge or permission from her parents. I also don't automatically condemn her parents for their tragedy. They did not shoot at their child.

    But I know the neighborhood and I've been on enough streets at 3 a.m. to know that there is no reason for a minor child to be there at that time unless there is a bus somowhere getting filled for a school or church trip to DC or Atlanta.

    Look, God bless the dead, but she didn't even go over to her adult miscreant boyfriend's house until after midnight. His mom died earlier this year, so no supervision there. He may have had a beef with rival drug crews (I say that only because he has a rap sheet with several drug incidents) who shot up his car, killing the girl while trying to get him. Maybe it was mistaken identity. That doesn't change the fact that this girl should have been in someone's home sleeping or doing some quiet activity while other people slept.

    Ask JB--I will ALWAYS give our young people the benefit of every doubt when it comes to stupidity, even when I know it's wrong because someone needs to stand up for them. But someone is at fault here. It isn't all or even really some of this young lady's fault. It is the fault of someone who should have been playing a parental role. If they don't like the blame then that's TOUGH SH*T to them. They should have looked out harder for their kin. Because it is painfully obvious that there is nobody else who will.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 3:40 PM  

  • I remember staying out that late at that age, I lied in order to do it though. I think at that age we don't believe in death.. much less tragic death..

    By Blogger Winter, at 5:04 PM  

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