How much killing are we willing to put up with?

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Arlene Jones

Some subjects need to be addressed over and over again. This is one of them. Back on March 25, the StreetBeat section of this newspaper asked, "Would you turn in a relative or friend to collect a reward?" Out of the seven responders, only one had a problem with a murderer being in his midst. The rest acted like a murderer/killer is an honorable profession and, with a bravado that was sickening to the stomach, the other six spoke about it like it was nothing.

For them, I guess, life has come down to being that cheap - except for when it hits their own doorsteps. Then they will be the first to moan and groan. But as long as the victim isn't them or their immediate family members or friends, then thugs, killers and murderers are free to roam the streets of Austin and the greater West Side, knowing that their friends and family members will protect them in spite of what they did.

With that in mind, let's take the case of Kimberly Harris. What? You haven't heard of her? She is the victim of one of those killers and murderers our young people are so proud to have as members of their family or be friends with.

Kimberly Harris was just 25. She had witnessed the murder of her boyfriend Keith Slugg in 2011. She identified Demarius Bridges as the shooter. Why someone who is a witness to a gang killing isn't given some sort of witness protection mystifies me. And if it was offered, I am even more mystified why the individual wouldn't take it.

On the evening of April 15 in the 2900 block of West Arthington, someone fired shots at Kimberly. They hit more than 20 times. Three bullets struck her in the face as well as other parts of her body. I used to think the black community would raise hell once women started being slaughtered in the streets like cattle. I was wrong. Any time a woman can be shot more than 20 times and is treated as a blurb on the news, we're in big trouble. Really big trouble. And when there isn't a major protest over the murder of a young woman who was trying to do the right thing, then where do we stand as a neighborhood and as a city?

Does anyone truly believe that an individual who could put over 20 bullets into an innocent victim's body is the kind of person you would want around? What kind of mindless animal shoots someone 20 times? Was killing Kimberly the "out" that Demarius Bridges needed? He is currently in jail as he couldn't make the $700,000 bail the judge set.

That's another thing that will always mystify me: Folks having money for what they want but never having any for what they need.

Will Kimberly Harris' death now set him free to roam the streets of the West Side until we have another case that involves someone being shot? And who in their right mind could go to sleep at night knowing that a cold-blooded murderer was lurking around their house?

If they ever find the killer of Kimberly Harris, I bet that person is still living off his mama and not on his own. Something about paying rent doesn't go along with the murdering lifestyle.

Until we become a society that truly embraces law and order, we are going to continue to have chaos. If that chaos leads us to more and more dead bodies, will we at some point tire of it? The question remains: "How much we are willing to put up with?" As my Momma always said, "If they can kill others, they can kill you."

Hopefully the six lovers of murderers, killers and thugs from StreetBeat won't ever do anything to piss off their murdering friend or relative. Otherwise they may find themselves the next notch on the belt.

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