Chicago ended the year with 506 murders. I don’t even have to look at the map of where the majority of those murders occurred to know that they were within the black neighborhoods. We have become so fractured that I can no longer call those areas a community. Rather, they are just a collection of areas where a lot of black people live.

Austin recorded 37 killings for our contribution to the carnage. That averages out to three killings a month. Mind you, those are just the murders. If you add in the folks who didn’t die, the numbers increase.

It is very easy to talk about murders, killings, shootings, and stabbings when people are statistics and not individuals. So I took the time to list the names of those killed last year in Austin. They were: Lionel Lane, Craigory Clark, Vernon Cummings, Matthew Zavala, Taki Crews, Cordarryl Mitchell, Brandon Miles, Tyrone Morris, Luprentice Mathis, Maurice Matthews, James Tatum, Tyrell White, Daniel Dilce, Shavez Wilson, Roy Smith, Heaven Sutton, Jamal Shepard, Darnell Walker, Adeniyi Adesida, Akil Partee, Curtis Brown, Quincy Simmons, Sherman Harris, Donta Gooden, Richard Johnson, Alonzo Powell, Devon Fields, Denzell Williams, Devin Harris, Joshua Albert, Shemara Fitzpatrick, Rene Reyna, Anton Baker, Sherman Horton, Kentan Scott, Edward Phelps and Nathaniel Jackson. The youngest to die had barely begun to live when killed at the tender age of 7. The oldest had made it through 57 years of life. Two of the murder victims were female, the rest male. Three were white, the rest black.

The majority of those killed in Austin died due to gunfire. Some were killed inside a residence, but the majority were killed on the streets. There was no safe time from the carnage. The killings took place morning, noon and night.

With a total of 506 people killed over the course of a year in Chicago, it is time that we, the citizens, take a stand — a real stance, not one led by jack-legged individuals looking for 15 minutes of fame. I would like to see real people who live in Austin take a moment to write or email this newspaper with suggestions on what should be done. And I will print those letters because when the voice of the average person is raised, it garners attention. We have to be sick and tired of the chaos going on in the streets of Austin. We cried tears of pain when little Heaven Sutton was shot down in cold blood by the stupidity called “gangbanging” and yet her death didn’t quell the killings. We watched in disgust as Newtown, Conn., revealed the horror of a mass shooting while being numbed to killings going on weekly right here — under our noses — where we live.

I wish I had the solution. I wish people would drop a dime on those creating and maintaining the carnage. But the sad truth is that there is money to be made in crime and money made by a prison-industrial complex that sees inmates as a revenue generator for their enterprise.

Just this past week, the FCC labeled prison telephone calls a “monopoly” as they looked at instances of a 15-minute call costing around $16. If ever there was a prime example of the term “crime pays,” it is in the deals prisons have made with phone companies.

And worst are the young people who have made going to prison a celebratory as opposed to a shameful act. Personally, I would like to see a law mandating that prisoners, be they in jail or prison, have to research their family history as a part of their eligibility for bail or parole.

Far too many young and old people have no idea of the price their ancestors paid for them to get here, and they disrespect that memory by committing their heinous crimes.

Of course I could name a ton of things I feel should be done, but what is really needed is the voice of the everyday Austin resident. Write me a note and tell me what the solution should be. Somehow, somewhere, someway, we as a neighborhood can find a way to lower our murder rate and again become a community.

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