So much promise, so much misery


I spend a lot of time reading various newspapers.
Coastal Point • File photo

Yes, it’s certainly part of the game when you’re in this business, but it’s also what I love to do in my spare time. If I’m sitting on my couch at home and watching television, there’s a good possibility I’m also glued to my iPhone, surfing from one newspaper Web site to the next. I like to read different accounts of things in the news, as well as the takes of various columnists.

And though I have a reputation amongst those who know me as being somewhat cynical, there are stories that grab at me and leave an emotional footprint in their wakes.

Take the case of Derrion Albert, for instance.

The 16-year-old honors student in Chicago left school last week to go home and found himself in the middle of an enormous street fight between two rival factions of students from his school. Albert was not involved in the dispute in any way, apart from his need to walk past it to get home.

In a disgusting case of wrong place, wrong time, Albert was attacked. According to police, a 16-year-old struck Albert in the head with a railroad tie, and then another came up and punched him in the face. Albert was apparently knocked unconscious, and he awoke a short time later to try to get away from the melee. At that point, another five youths attacked him and beat him until he was dead.

That’s it. Dead. A walk home from school resulted in this promising young man being killed.

For no reason.

Gone.

An amateur video of the fight led police to four arrests so far, and they were still looking for three more responsible for Albert’s death, as of Wednesday. Chicago police are begging for help in catching the others involved and are tired of the same rationale behind not getting any information.

“The culture of ‘no-snitch’ is unacceptable,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weiss, as quoted in an article on the CNN Web site. “A young man with a promising future lost his life to senseless violence, yet few have come forward.”

Look, I do understand the hesitancy of people to come forward with information, particularly when it involves the gang mentality exhibited in this case. For many, it’s not out of some sense of honor that they don’t want to “snitch” on those responsible, it’s more a case of self-preservation. They believe there will be retribution from those involved if they talk to police.

I get that. And, in reality, they are probably right. If these knuckleheads think so little of human life that they are willing to beat an innocent kid to death on the street, there is a little to be afraid of in terms of talking to the police.

That being said, when is enough, well, enough?

Leaders in that community must rally together and convince the people to get involved. It’s too late now to save the life of Albert, but by banding together and helping the police hold these people accountable for their actions, the next Derrion Albert might find a safer walk home from school.

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Momma McCann turns 60 this week, and I’d be setting myself up for a guilt trip for the ages if I let that slip by unmentioned.

At this point, I could get all mushy about how much I appreciate the fact that she stayed on my backside throughout my checkered youth, and how thankful I am to have her as a friend now as an adult. It’s comforting to be able to call her now and debate the world’s politics, talk about our favorite books or just have a Mommy to call when I’m feeling under the weather.

But I do realize, in a very small part of me, that you’re not only my mother. You’re also a smart, beautiful woman who has never backed down from the good fight, and you continue to lead a full life. I’m happy that you’re celebrating this birthday with good cheer and optimism for the future, and you continue to be somebody I can learn from simply by watching you.

Happy birthday, Mom.