Updated: Feb 5
By Editorial Board
There’s a common saying when it comes to violence: “If you see or hear something, say something.” That’s also a frequently used phrase perpetuated by domestic abuse advocacy groups. However, as with anything in life, it’s easier said than done. And, depending on where you’re from, there’s another saying: “snitches get stitches.”
On Jan. 21, a young woman was shot in the head and left to die in an alley behind Broadway Avenue (literally in Gazette 2.0’s own backyard.) She died hours later in a hospital.
The alleged perpetrator was caught and is sitting in jail, where he belongs. Although no official motive has been publicly given as to why the man killed her, it seems clear to people who lived around the two (the victim and perpetrator were a couple that lived together.)
Allegedly, they often got into loud and disruptive fights, which could be heard by several neighbors, mostly at night.
When news of the violent act got out, some people started questioning those that lived around them. Why didn’t they say anything?
Well, they did. Police were called on this couple more than once according to residents that live in close proximity. The problem is, nothing was done at the time and, after a certain point, residents no longer wanted to call police. Either out of fear for themselves or lack of belief in police, the result remains the same. Nothing was done to fix the problem.
Are police at fault here for not doing anything? Why wasn’t further action taken?
Well, unfortunately, our system is such that officers can only help those that want to be helped. If they question a domestic abuse victim and she/he is insistent they just tripped down a flight of stairs, what are police supposed to do? Act on their suspicion that it may be abuse? Suspicion doesn’t hold in a court of law.
It’s easy to blame law enforcement when you don’t know the specific circumstances.
Who or what is to blame then?
When you get down to the root of it, there’s no one single thing that can be pinpointed. Poor education and lack of mental health are contributors, but just how much is debatable. Local government should come into question too, for neighborhoods where this is an ongoing issue. There are a lot of factors that come into play, but the fact of the matter is, it’s a broken system. And, at the end of the day, the sole person responsible for a murder is a murderer.
Personal responsibility needs to be taken into consideration, too. It’s astonishing how some of the families of violent criminals will defend them, claiming they are good people and they just made a mistake. Murder is not a mistake. It’s a conscious act. By enabling people like this, it exacerbates the problem.
While we — as observers — should always speak up for others, we have to keep in mind there’s only so much that can be done. After that, it’s up to the ruptured system that neglects victims in the first place.
Not everything that’s broken can be fixed.
Sometimes, you need to break the foundation and start over before change can be seen. Unfortunately, for this young woman and other victims like her, change comes too late.