Category Archives: Swamp watch: A PGCPS teenager was robbed and did the ‘right thing.’ Then his family had to move.

Swamp watch: A PGCPS teenager was robbed and did the ‘right thing.’ Then his family had to move.

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By Reform Sasscer Staff

A democratic government must serve the interests of the people through real actions—not empty words. However, the current rules regulating the use of money to influence elections and government lead to grievous conflicts and distortions in derogation of the duty of fair representation that elected representatives owe their constituents. The role that money plays in our political system is an even bigger problem for a healthy democracy given the massive wealth inequality in America today.

Far too many Americans share the widely held view that both the local and Federal governments are run by and for wealthy and powerful special interests. Strong majorities of Americans have lost confidence that the local, state and Federal governments are run for the benefit “of all the people” and instead believe “a few big interests looking out for themselves” are controlling it. A very good example in the state and local level in Maryland is the role Maryland Senate President Mike Miller is said to play in Prince George’s County and across Maryland. There are allegations Maryland judges, senators and other local leaders work at his pleasure which is one reason the crime in Maryland has been very high.

The Washington Post published an article describing how one family has been forced to move in fear of death.  Its a shame that they have to live in fear for doing the right things, but the only way we can reduce crime is to get rid of the “no snitching” culture. American citizenry are going to have to decide whether or not they want to take back their neighborhoods.  To do this, they are going to have to allow their police departments to do their job without interference. They must stop second guessing these police officers’ decisions while in dangerous situations, but most of all, they must stop wringing their hands over the numbers of young blacks behind bars.

There is another article which was published by the USA Today in July 2018 which dramatically illustrates why officers suddenly seemed to stop noticing crime. The story is about the crime wave that began in Baltimore following the Freddie Gray incident. The Baltimore police department reacted to the community outrage by simply not responding to calls from Baltimore city neighborhoods.

So there it is.   Work with your local police departments (most of which have black officers who police these neighborhoods), churches, civil advocates, school guidance counselors or live with the crime without complaining. The crime in Prince George’s County is not always reported and in most cases is suppressed in order to make the county look good at the beckoning of powerful special interests. Prince George’s County is an extension of Washington DC in many ways even though County Executive Angela Alsobrooks denied those allegation during her inauguration when she stated, “Prince Georgians, write this down. We are not Ward 9!”

We must find ways to address the issues and make the county citizens feel safe. This way, we change the status quo while benefiting the county and state in the new year.

We reprint the report by Washington Post below:

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A 17-year-old who asked to be identified as V.J. looks across the parking lot of the Prince George’s County apartment complex where his family is staying with a relative. (Theresa Vargas/Theresa Vargas/The Washington Post)

By Theresa Vargas

It started the way it too often does: with a pair of shoes.

The 17-year-old had taken care of his five younger siblings all summer, without complaint, so his mother bought him a pair of Nike Air Uptempto ’96 sneakers. The $160 wasn’t easy for the hairdresser to spare, but she felt he had earned those shoes — and he loved them. The day he got them, he took a video of himself wearing them.

Then a few days later, as his mom waited for him to get home from a job interview, the teenager walked into the family’s Maryland home, wearing only his socks.

“Mom, I’m sorry,” he said before telling her that he was robbed at gunpoint. The shoes he had worn only twice and a backpack that had held his school uniform were gone.

“Baby, you could have lost your life,” she told him.

As the teenager described the robbery to me on a recent night, detailing how two men sat in a car as a third man stepped out and aimed a small black handgun at him from “two feet away,” his voice dipped to almost a whisper. His mother sat nearby, nearly crying.

“I told you once and I’ll tell you again, if that ever happens again, you do the same thing,” she said. “I don’t care if those shoes was a million dollars because I only have one of you. You did the right thing.”

The right thing. It’s a phrase that comes up often when we talk about crime. The generally agreed upon right thing to do during and after a robbery is the same: cooperate. Don’t fight for things that can be replaced. Then call the police, give a witness account and, if needed, testify in court.

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Makiyah Wilson, 10, was shot and killed in July as she went to an ice cream truck in Northeast Washington. (Courtesy of Raven Hall/family photo/Courtesy of Raven Hall/family photo)

It sounds easy. But in some neighborhoods, where fear is already part of the backdrop, the fallout of doing the right thing can carry a price higher than what was stolen.

To see that, we just have to look at how the teenager and his family spent Christmas.

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Gerald Watson,15, was shot and killed on Dec. 13, 2018 after he was chased into an apartment building. (Family photo courtesy of Alberta Pearson/Family photo courtesy of Alberta Pearson)

On Dec. 25, more than three months after the robbery occurred, his family passed the holiday in the borrowed space of a relative, too afraid to return to their own Prince George’s County home.

After he was robbed, the teenager walked for about eight minutes in his socks to his front door.

That night, his mother decided not to call the police. She was scared the men were still watching or knew one of her neighbors and she didn’t want anyone to see the officers pull up. She waited until daylight.

The next morning, the teenager told the police what happened and agreed to cooperate with the investigation. He later identified two of the three men in the car. None had even bothered to put on a mask.

I first met the teenager and his mother years ago while reporting on a story that had nothing to do with crime. It had to do with the struggle working parents sometimes face to provide for their children. I am not linking to that story or identifying the family here to protect their identity. The teenager asked only to be identified by his nickname, V.J.

V.J. said he talked to the police because he wanted those men caught. He feared for himself but also for his five younger siblings.

Soon after the robbery, their mom stopped sleeping in her room. Her bed became the couch in the living room so she could listen for any sound that might indicate the men were trying to break in. After several weeks of doing that, she and her husband, a construction foreman, packed up the family and left their home.

Since October, while they have searched for a new place, they have tumbled between friends’ and relatives’ homes, squeezing eight people into living rooms and bedroom nooks. And those friends and relatives have made room for them in already crowded spaces because they understand the risks that come with speaking up.

They understand that more than a backpack and a pair of shoes were lost.

“I watched my son shut down after this,” the teenager’s mother said. He’s a high school senior that loves to play sports, she said. “When he said, ‘Mom, I’m not going to go outside anymore,’ right there, I said this isn’t going to work. He’s 17. He should be going outside. He should have a girlfriend. He should be shooting hoops. But mothers are losing their kids so frequent, so fast now that I’m also afraid to not know where he is at all times.”

Just this year, she has been touched by the deaths of two children who were killed in a spray of gunfire.

She went to the hospital the night 10-year-old Makiyah Wilson was shot as she headed toward an ice cream truck in her Northeast D.C. neighborhood. She knew Makiyah’s mother from work and went as soon as she got a call saying the girl was hurt.

Then, a few weeks ago, she was attending an honor roll ceremony for one of her sons and noticed a fellow parent wasn’t there. She called and found out the woman, a D.C. police officer, was investigating the death of a 15-year-old who was shot 17 times in the stairwell of an Anacostia building.

“Do I have to cradle my son until I’m dead, because that’s how I feel,” the teenager’s mother said. “I don’t want to bury any of my kids.”

She knows some people will hear her story and criticize her for buying her son expensive shoes. Those people will have missed the bigger picture for a petty jab. She shared her family’s story because children are being killed for nothing and she believes it’s important that the public realize the cost that comes with trying to be part of the solution. After her son was robbed, he called the place where he had applied for a job and rescinded his application, knowing that with the move he could no longer get there on his own.

Days before Christmas, the family also hadn’t bought a tree or presents. Their space was already crowded enough. Even so, V.J and his mom said they were grateful for that temporary housing because it offered what no longer existed at their old home.

“I feel safe now that we’re not there,” V.J. said.

“It’s uncomfortable,” the teenager’s mother said. “We’re living out of suitcases. But I’m with family. And I still have my son.”

The family planned to move the first week of January into a new apartment in a new neighborhood. They know crime will still exist there. But at least none of their new neighbors will know who they are or that they did the right thing.

via Washington post 

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