I am bothered by a trend that has been occurring lately. I’m sure I’m not the only one. I can’t say exactly when the trend started, although it has been occurring for the past couple of years. The trend that is upsetting me is the tendency by the media to group any teenager killed as a “Chicago Public School student.”
I’m sure you have heard it too. Rather than do true “news” reporting and tell the facts, any young person who is killed is now linked to CPS and not a community, gang or any other reason for the murder. Like the case of Alex Arellano, the young 15-year-old who was found last week stabbed, beaten, hit by a car, shot in the head and burned beyond recognition. He hadn’t attended CPS since September 2008. That’s almost a full attendance year.
What bothers me about the media calling those killed “a CPS student” is that 99 percent of the time, the public schools have nothing to do with the murder. The young person isn’t on school property or even killed leaving school. The only link is that the person is attending or may have attended a Chicago public school. But then again, we can give the children killed a variety of titles. They are also Chicago residents, taxpayers, future voters and on and on.
I am bothered when anybody in Chicago is killed. I am especially disturbed when young people who should be seen as the foundation of our future are killed. The case of Arellano is more disturbing than any I’ve seen or heard about in years. This kid wasn’t just killed, he was slaughtered – up close and personal. There is a lot of hatred in someone for them to hit you with a bat, stab you with a knife, run you over with a car and take a gun and shoot you in the head. Then, as the final act of retribution, they set your dead or dying body on fire to be burned beyond recognition.
Do we really want this heinous crime to also contain the label of CPS student? Or should we call it exactly what it is: a gangland killing. This was of such terrorist proportions that I believe the federal government needs to intervene, so that whoever is responsible is not only captured and convicted but also given the ultimate punishment: the death penalty.
Now, I do have to give kudos to news outlets for one thing. They printed the picture from the boy’s MySpace.com page of his throwing up, according to police, alleged gang signs. His family says he wasn’t associated with gangs. The picture sheds some light on why he may have been killed. He was displaying gestures with his right hand and a supposed rival gang’s sign upside down with his left. For those that don’t know, that’s an apparent insult to the other gang.
Gangs don’t respect your rights. They’re not looking for an apology when they feel disrespected. Rather, they solve all their issues with violent actions.
One of the reasons that I am tired of hearing all youth violent deaths tied to schools is because it seems to indemnify neighborhoods and groups from responsibilities when it comes to the killings. In the case of Arellano, where is the level of outrage for his senseless killings as usually displayed over, say, the raids against undocumented workers? Where are those same activists who took to the streets a year ago when the feds busted up a fake document ring in Little Village? Where is the outrage over the killers still walking the streets?
Whoever killed Alex Arellano took the time to find five different ways to kill him, so many in order to satisfy their blood thirst. They were bold enough to do it in the gangway of an abandoned bungalow, in a crowded neighborhood filled with children and families – not in the hidden confines of some out of the way spot. Alex didn’t deserve to die in the way he did. Nor do any of us deserve to have those kinds of killers walking the streets. Whoever killed Alex Arellano has been emboldened by their actions, and there has not been enough of a public outcry to find the killers.
And we also need to know all the reasons why he was killed in such a heinous fashion. Were the killers sending a message and to whom? Is his murder the newest “standard” for gangland slayings? Didn’t anyone call police as he was being chased and hit by the car? Or call the police when the sound of a gun blast was sent into his head? Didn’t anyone hear anything or smell his body smoldering as it burned?
Pay Attention Chicago. The long hot summer is beginning and until we rise up and take back our streets, Alex’s mode of death may just be the beginning.