Terrorism at L’Enfant Metro? A Senseless Attack

January 7, 2011

I was, like many this week, very disturbed to see a group of young people viciously attacking an innocent man at the L’Enfant Metro Station in DC.  The attack was senseless, vicious, and cowardly.  It disturbed me that these teens would just randomly pick out someone and attack them, while their friends videoed it.  It disturbed me because there were so many bystanders who either just walked away, or whipped out their own cell phones and recorded it instead of using the phones to call 911.

It also disturbed me because the victim just happened to be my first cousin, Allen, who I have known since we were infants.

Since the attack was posted on YouTube, the story has spread like wildfire, replicated on TBD.com, the Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Twitter, Facebook, Fox News, The Drudge Report, Free Republic and others.  According to Fox News, it has resulted in a public outcry.

Allen didn’t deserve this.  He was headed home from the gym, waiting for the 7:15 train at L’Enfant, reading a book, when someone hit him hard in the back of the head.  He turned to confront the attacker, and another one got him from the other side.  And soon another.  For over a minute he was viciously pummeled, and when he tried to get away, they followed, hitting again and again, until he finally broke free and managed to get the station manager’s attention.  But of course, the young gangsta wannabe’s were long gone.

My cousin is a nice guy.  He’s had a few hard knocks like all of us, but he is a good person.  He is incredibly smart, highly educated, worked in political-type jobs for a long time, and left that field in 2004 and is now working in horticulture… The man knows his plants and his former house was beautifully landscaped.  My sister lives in the DC area too, and he did her yard as well.  He is quiet, unassuming, and would do all he could to help someone.

Why attack him?

That question, I think, lies at the heart of this problem.  I’m going to get to that in a minute.  But first, I want to look at three angles that seem to be filling up discussion boards and chat sites that I have visited over the past 48 hours on this.

The first is the racial aspect.  Yes, I think there is a racial aspect to it.  Some wish to push that to the side, saying, no, no, it’s not about race, it’s about crime.  Wrong, it is about race.  It is about a subculture (black gangsta) that enjoys going out, finding victims and assaulting them, or sometimes killing as well.   This has gone on for a very long time.  Politicians, police, educators, sociologists and other professionals wish to disavow any mention of race, but to do so isn’t honest.  The truth is that these young blacks like to find white victims and beat them up.  The aforementioned “professionals” don’t want to use the race word, because they are scared of “racial unrest” if their words are misunderstood.

Well, what exactly do they think this was? It has happened over and over and over again.  And no one wants to help.  They are too scared to.

It happened to me many years ago when I was a child, only 8 or 9 years old, playing in Freedom Park in Charlotte.  I was climbing on the old steam engine displayed there, and my sister was close by.  Our father was on the softball field just down from there, playing ball.  Suddenly my sister screamed, and she was surrounded by about twenty black girls in their late teens who were beating her and trying to rip off her clothes.  I jumped down and waded in, swinging.  Of course, one 8 or 9 year-old boy can’t do a whole lot of damage, and I was beaten pretty badly.  We both were.  My father was shaking with rage, and attempted to chase them down with his bat, but they got away.

I was badly frightened, and I can still remember that day like it was yesterday, and I know my cousin is feeling it now.  The only difference is he is an adult, whereas what happened to me happened when I was a child.  I hope he’s better able to shrug it off than I was.  But I have to say, it really is a black/white issue, and it will continue to be that way unless we get serious about punishment.  Though I must note, not all of the attacks on the Metro have been black on white, some of them have been black on black, but attacks like Allen’s have been more common in most places, when the victim is selected at random.  And neither my sister nor I are racists in any way, shape or form.  But I do call racist on those attackers, without hesitation. It was a racial attack, the victim chosen because he was alone and white.  That makes the attackers racist in my mind.

The other aspect to this I have seen commonly commented on is the despicable behavior of those who had phones and were able to call for help, but instead chose to film the attack.  Some of them waited until he came back, then thrust their phones in his face, saying, “Any comment, sir?”  “How do you feel?”  as though they were TV reporters.  And you can bet, some of them were hoping to be able to sell the footage to news outlets.   If it were up to me, it would be illegal to pay for images or footage of crimes in progress.  One of them even said he would “sell” his video to Allen for “evidence.”  What a pathetic excuse for a human being!

It’s simple, really.  If a crime is taking place before your eyes you have a moral, ethical and even legal duty to get help.  You need not put yourself in harm’s way, but at least call for help, quickly.  The laws in most places dictate that citizens who witness crimes be available to get help and assist victims if need be.

A third item also has appeared in chats and blogs:  parental responsibility.  Where were the parents of these kids, and what kind of parenting teaches them they can do this sort of thing?  The absent kind.  This is so obvious on its face it needs no further comment from me.

So, we have racial instability, resulting in black on white attacks.  We have bystanders so callous they wouldn’t even call for help or push the emergency button on the station phones, and we have total lack of parental oversight.

Are we all together so far?

Okay then, here is my conclusion.  While all of the above are factors, not a single one really defines this incident.  If I had to pick a single word for it, it would be this:  terrorism.

Yes, terrorism.  What is the goal of terrorism?  To instill terror.  And that is precisely what these attacks are doing.  That is the reason so many people just walked away.  They were terrified.  I do not believe this was “assault and battery.”  That is a normal charge for when two people argue, or one insults another, threats are exchanged, and one finally attacks the other.  This was a victim selected at random, simply reading a book while waiting on the train, and viciously assaulted.  It wasn’t for robbery, it wasn’t rape, it wasn’t revenge for past wrongs, it was just…terrorism.

That is the only word that makes sense.  The people who have committed these crimes are simply homegrown domestic terrorists.  The goal is simply to frighten and terrorize a segment of the population.  And they have succeeded magnificently.

Since the Patriot Act was enacted, those suspected of terrorism can be held in jail for a very long time indeed, without due process.  I don’t know that it would be appropriate, but to begin solving the problems of attacks like these I do believe we need to accept that we are dealing with terrorists, and treat them accordingly.

The school system in Wake County, NC, where I live, and many others as well have instituted a Zero Tolerance policy for assaults and other crimes.   A top student accidentally brought her dad’s lunchbox (which matched hers) to school in a nearby county and it had a small knife to carve an apple with.  A random search found the knife, and this popular, top-notch student was suspended for the rest of the year.  It is stupid they carry the policy to such ridiculous extremes, but on the other hand, it has made a huge difference in reducing bullying, fighting and assaults in schools.  My question is, why stop at the schools?  Why not a zero tolerance policy for the rest of the population?  In other words, let’s get serious about driving these thugs from our society.

We do not need a society terrorized by gangs.

We do not need parents who can’t take responsibility.

We do not need racial unrest caused by attacks on whites for no reason.

But we do need to be firm, swift and resolute in our dealing with those who want to cause trouble.

If someone attacks me like they did my cousin, well…  Let’s just say I, for one, will declare myself ready to rumble.  It’s time to put a stop to the madness.

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