Philadelphia has had enough Shootings

Not much to say, really, but in Cumbria recently a man went berserk with a gun and killed a dozen people.  The nation beat it’s collective chest in anguish.

The other day, I posted about Northern Ireland and the US, comparing and contrasting the loss of life.  I ended by saying,

  • Why is America like this?
  • Why do they put up with such shit?

Well now, in some  news that in all probability no-one in the U.K. will know about at all, part of Philadelphia has had enough of the shit and been declared a State of Emergency by the mayor.  It’s a part of the big city called Chester where 11 people have been shot this month alone!  (Chester is about as big as Bridgwater here in the UK to put it in context). The full story is here and here’s the news report.

Quoting directly from the article,

Chester, Pa. – June 19, 2010 (WPVI) — In response to the ongoing deadly violence, the city of Chester is declaring a State of Emergency.

At a press conference Saturday afternoon, Mayor Wendell Butler declared he had enough and it is time to take action.

“We need law enforcement to step up, to vigorously go after any violator; our number one priority is to get guns off the street then drugs and try to make our neighborhoods as safe as we possibly can,” Butler said.

The State of Emergency took effect 9:00 p.m. Saturday.

From 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. each day in the five areas of the city, no person without a legitimate reason is allowed in any public street or place, no assembling of three or more people is allowed without a permit, and all vacation and personal days by members of the Chester Police Department have been cancelled immediately.

The State of Emergency is set to last five days.

Mayor Butler says he is going to City Council to ask for an extra 30 days.

Even in this tough economic time, he says money is no object.

“I’m not worried about money, if I have to break the bank, I’ll break the bank,” Butler said, “The residents and visitors to my town are just vitally important to me, you can’t put a dollar amount on that.”

The State of Emergency is being issued following another homicide that took place overnight.

One commenter on the story says,

WHY are the 5 sections of the city declared an State of Emergency, what about the areas in buck men villages: meadow lane, keystone road, pine lane, clover lane, 900 to the 1200 blocks, and highland ave. this is a war zone for violent’s and killings. I saw a man dead on a side walk with his brains all over. Does this sound normal to live like this? No but this is how people in buck men village live. If you pull up to your home and sit in car for a few minutes to say goodbye to your friend, you have guns put to your w…

..before he hit the 500 word limit.

But you get the gist of how bad it is, and how lucky we are in the UK not to have to put up with such continuous absolute shite in our lives.

The Real Troubles are not in Northern Ireland

Bloody Sunday

YOU ARE NOW ENTERING FREE DERRY 8The Saville Report, probably the longest and certainly the most expensive enquiry in the UK ever, is now out.  The ramifications are continuing, despite the Prime Minister trying to draw a line under everything.  See Bloody Sunday report published

History

On that day in 1972, 13 folks were killed, and overall, in what are called “The Troubles”, over 3,500 people were killed in Northern Ireland in the 30 years between 1968 and 1998.  (see ref.)  This is about 130 a year, or about 11 a month. ( Also, during the 30 years, >47,000 were injured!)

Bloody Philadelphia

But let’s stick with the dead for now.

I’ve been following the local 6ABC News in Philadelphia for a bit.  It’s not happy reading.  Most of the news headlines are murder related.

For Instance

Last year there was a ‘random’ shooting at a funeral.  Afterwards, Taaqi Brown was caught and charged with killing Aaron Kearney, although apparently he was after one of Kearney’s friends, ( – so that makes it alright, then?)

These are black guys, and drugs and guns come into the story a lot.  See storyline links below:

Disturbing Philadelphia

Recently, Taaqi had been let out of custody accidentally, which is pretty bad for the law enforcement agencies.  He later turned himself in.  What is horrifically disturbing though, is the interactive map from the Philadelphia Police Department.

http://citymaps.phila.gov/CrimeMap/map….from=5%2f17%2f2010&to=6%2f16%2f2010

Click on it and you’ll see all the homicides in the city for the past one month.  This is only one month, not a year or a decade….

27 people killed!

Most of these are from gunshot.  Mostly, people have been murdered outside in the street.  These are the cold statistics.

Crime Category Location Date/Time Premise Code
114 – Homicide: Knife 6100 BLOCK COTTAGE ST 6/13/2010 8:58 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
111 – Homicide: Handgun 500 BLOCK E ASHMEAD ST 6/13/2010 0:23 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
111 – Homicide: Handgun 6900 BLOCK N 19TH ST 6/12/2010 2:36 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
111 – Homicide: Handgun S COLORADO ST & WOLF ST 6/10/2010 6:04 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
111 – Homicide: Handgun N HOWARD ST & W HUNTINGDON ST 6/9/2010 17:11 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
111 – Homicide: Handgun CHEW AV & E WOODLAWN ST 6/6/2010 6:50 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
123 – Homicide: Non-Traffic 1100 BLOCK S 6TH ST 6/5/2010 0:52 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
111 – Homicide: Handgun 400 BLOCK E SHARPNACK ST 6/4/2010 5:14 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
112 – Homicide: Rifle 1200 BLOCK S 21ST ST 6/3/2010 8:18 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
111 – Homicide: Handgun 1600 BLOCK W YORK ST 6/3/2010 3:07 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
115 – Homicide: Beating 1200 BLOCK N 4TH ST 6/2/2010 14:54 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
114 – Homicide: Knife 2600 BLOCK COLLINS ST 6/2/2010 12:49 70. Private Residence
111 – Homicide: Handgun 3000 BLOCK W DAKOTA ST 6/1/2010 8:56 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
111 – Homicide: Handgun S 60TH ST & KINGSESSING 5/31/2010 6:56 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
111 – Homicide: Handgun 2100 BLOCK E CLEARFIELD 5/31/2010 4:14 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
121 – Homicide: Auto W LEHIGH AV & MASCHER ST 5/30/2010 6:56 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
111 – Homicide: Handgun 400 BLOCK W INDIANA AV 5/30/2010 2:37 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
111 – Homicide: Handgun 4800 BLOCK DEVEREAUX AV 5/29/2010 3:56 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
111 – Homicide: Handgun 5400 BLOCK BALTIMORE AV 5/29/2010 2:11 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
111 – Homicide: Handgun 3300 BLOCK W WESTMORELAND ST 5/28/2010 4:21 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
123 – Homicide: Non-Traffic 1200 BLOCK RHAWN ST 5/26/2010 13:43 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
111 – Homicide: Handgun 1200 BLOCK S BUCKNELL ST 5/25/2010 3:30 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
117 – Homicide: felon by Police Officer 1500 BLOCK W TIOGA ST 5/22/2010 4:01 66. Apartment House/Condominium
117 – Homicide: felon by Police Officer 1500 BLOCK W TIOGA ST 5/21/2010 23:21 66. Apartment House/Condominium
111 – Homicide: Handgun 900 BLOCK FILBERT ST 5/21/2010 7:29 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
123 – Homicide: Non-Traffic N 2ND ST & W OLNEY AV 5/18/2010 20:32 53. Highway (Outside Structure)
111 – Homicide: Handgun N 59TH ST & LANSDOWNE AV 5/17/2010 6:20 53. Highway (Outside Structure)

But remember, Northern Ireland, for the whole of The Troubles, averaged out at 11 murders per month…..  This is just one month in Philadelphia!

Murderous, Troubled, Philadelphia

It means ol’ Philly is 3 times as bad as Northern Ireland.

  • What can they do?
  • Has it always been like this?
  • Do they want it to change?

Q. So which makes the best holiday destination?  N. Ireland or Philadelphia?

Q. Are they very similar?

Well, both Philadelphia and N.I. have similar populations of between 1.5 and 2 million souls.   But there, I’m afraid the similarity ends.

My own internal image I have of Northern Ireland is of it’s troubled times, but in all likelihood I could walk the streets yet not feel very “brotherly” towards the place because I’d be haunted by it’s past.  But I’d most likely be “safe”.

My image of Philadelphia is of the home of Benjamin Franklin and the Liberty Bell.  It means “The City of Brotherly Love” from it’s Greek meaning. I also have a vision of a  ‘tough’ place because of Will Smith’s signature tune from the Fresh Price of Bel Air.

But my new image is that it’s not somewhere that’s safe to walk the streets, or even drive.  27 murders a month is nearly one a day.

Northern Ireland was never, ever, as bad as Philadelphia now.

War On ??

The continuing “War on Terror” looks to be a misguided distraction from these figures.  The true war should be being fought on the streets of cities like Philadelphia and in the minds of it’s inhabitants.

Because, you see, what happens is that if these same “poor kids” involved in a society like this, decide that the only way out of their mess of a life, is to join the Army in it’s war on terror, then their poor grasp of right and wrong leads to the continuing atrocities that we see in Iraq, Afghanistan etc.  Things like the gunship turkey shoot below where American heroes heroically shoot unarmed civilians on the ground from afar… (We only know of this because of the great Wikileaks.  As usual, the government tried to cover it up.)

This action and the continuing slaughter on America’s own streets by Americans is inexcusable.

  • Why is America like this?
  • Why do they put up with such shit?

Response to Joint statement by Gordon Brown and Kevin Rudd

I subscribe to news from No10.gov.uk to get the latest view of events and policies from the highest elected position in the land!  In this post from the PM’s office, is a joint statement from our own and the Australian Prime Minister.

My interest is piqued by the numerical incidence of the two words “peace” and “security“.

In Nichiren Daishonin’s epic treatise, On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land, these are the statistical incidences of the two words:

  • Peace (or peaceful) = 7 times
  • Security = 3 times

In the statement from the two Prime Ministers we have the incidences as follows:

  • Peace (or peaceful) = 2 times
  • Security = 54 times

What this means is that the single thing that pre-occupies their minds above all else, (even more than “economic” which only occurs 6 times! ) is security.   It’s as if security is the be-all and end-all of everything.

Lotus FlowerBut that’s the wrong approach.  Peace should be at the forefront of their minds if they really care about the “security” of their citizens (or subjects in my case).  Security should be but a temporary tool in the quest for peace not a thing in itself.  That’s why, in his treatise, Nichiren stresses peace more often than security even though he recognised the need for both with the impending Mongol invasion imminent ( it was written in 1260!).

If we search and strive for peace, with peace always at the front of our thoughts, the world will surely turn that way.  If all we do is think in a paranoid manner about security, then the world will surely turn that way.

And so it has.  The UK and Australia are mired in long-term conflicts with no end unless a peaceful solution is sought. They were lured by bad words and advice from America.

But the UK has already successfully trodden the peace path with Northern Ireland on it’s doorstep.  Historically, enhanced security in Northern Ireland did nothing to improve people’s lives for 3 decades and bring them peace.  It was only the mindset of peace that brought peace by getting dialogue between the parties.

This mindset of peace should be evident in this joint Prime Minister’s statement, but sadly it’s not.  The dialog is about enhancing the warlike alliances that already exist, not about finding peaceful solutions to the world’s problems.  It’s about using “technology” and “security” as a magic pill to ease all aches, not grabbing the nettle of discourse with an enemy.   That’s why we are where we are.

Significantly, the No10 website is made with WordPress, like this one.  I use the “tag” feature as does the PM’s site.  It’s supposed to be used like a keyword sort-of-thing.  Check the tags at the bottom of the post.

Peace is not a tag.  But security is.

Say no more.

DNA and Capital Punishment

Yet Another Reason Why We Don’t Kill Murderers in Britain

Sean Hodgson could be the latest person to benefit from the pure goodness of science and knowledge.  His DNA, apparently, isn’t the same as that of the person that killed Teresa De Simone way back in 1979!

Tragically, he’s been locked up all that time for Teresa’s killing …

I certainly can’t guess at his mental state now or what he thinks of a world that could do that to him.  The little I do know is that at the time of his arrest, he seemed to belong to that weird bunch of folk that admit to anything, trusting to the ‘rightness’ of authority, or, he was similar to some common people of long ago who’d admit to a murder because their lives were so impoverished that 15 minutes of fame on the scaffold seemed a good trade to get out of it.

The increasing frequency with which these miscarriages of justice are coming to light with the benefit of new technology is staggering.  The only justification we have left for having the sort of legal system that’s made so many mistakes, so often, is that at last, justice is being done – and being seen to be done!

It’s not enough that in the old days someone ended up dangling on a rope and everyone else went home happy.

We can only thank those enlightened people of the post-war era who, against much opposition, demonstrated their disgust at capital punishment.  I think sometimes,  especially since the Thatcher era, these aims would be hard to maintain under pressure of the hang-em and flog-em brigade, rabble-roused by the popular press following some particularly appalling crime.  It’s at such times a clear focus is needed to maintain the clarity between right and wrong.

The recent murders in Northern Ireland are such a time, here in the UK.  Elsewhere, we’ve had gun massacres in Germany and Alabama, and bombs in Baghdad.  Because all human life is precious, the only difference between the events is what happens to the perpetrators, if caught.  In Germany and Northern Ireland, a convicted killer is imprisoned.  Not so in Alabama or Baghdad. (I’m omitting the fact that the killers apparently topped themselves for this argument.)

There have been enough miscarriages of justice attached to the Irish troubles to make films and books.  Thankfully, although many people’s lives were destroyed and changed forever, the truth came out – eventually.  If people like the Birmingham Six had been executed, no further investigations would have happened and the same patterns of police and judicial behaviour would have continued until the present.

We want justice to be done and seen to be done.  But we also need the right justice.  The USA and other dogmatic places with rigid beliefs need to catch up.  These recent events are a reminder of this, and our violent, vindictive nature, that must be controlled at all times.

Ireland, Somerset and the Legion d’Honneur

Nichiren

…if the minds of living beings are impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land. There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds. – Nichiren Daishonin, from his writings, page 4.  Written in 1255.

Ireland

On being woken today by my clock radio, I heard that one of the two soldiers killed by the ‘Real’ IRA attack threw his unarmed body on top of the 19 year old Domino Pizza delivery boy, Anthony Watson,  to shield him from the bullets.  This was initially reported here in The Belfast Telegraph.  Almost to no avail, though.  The gunmen advanced towards them and shot them all as they lay prone on the ground.

We’ll soon determine which of the two young men it was, but I’m reminded of the words of the prophet Jesus, someone whose sayings have been an excuse for much of Irish and the World’s troubles.

13: Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. – The Book of John 15:13

“Friend” refers to a fellow human being, and the act is one of those continuing, astonishing acts by ordinary people that remind us that there is “good” as a concept, in humanity.

Following this act, another bunch of hoodlums called the ‘Continuity’ IRA have killed a policeman, as if to validate the justice of their cause and make a point of their own power.  The timing is no co-incidence.  The real reason is that were being left out of the show and shown to be ineffectual.  Their twisted logic meant that they had to do the same.

Fallout and Response

Community support shown for the two soldiers is a positive signIt’s to be expected that all the politicians of all flavours would “express disgust” etc about the killings and that they would say positive things about the peace process continuing.   It’s also to be expected that friends and commanders of the service people would express fine words and sentiments about their fallen comrades.   All these things happen every time someone dies out of time or in such a fashion.  In fact bizarrely, it’d be unusual if they didn’t.  All human life is precious.

People laying Flowers at the scene of the shootingBut what is really heartening, is to see the large public response of disgust to the killings and worry about the consequences.  With the obvious exception of the Omagh atrocity (also the rira), the people of Ireland as a whole have had nearly 15 years of peace and a buoyant growing economy.  They don’t want to return to the bad old days of thuggery and protection rackets.  Many children now don’t have an actual memory of those times, only the stories from others.

But the response is mainly verbal, from vox-pop interviews on the street and phone-ins, say.  We need more than a few flowers.

Real IRA graffitiSuggestion

What I’d like is a nice big symbolic gesture from these people to show that the few thuggish families behind all this stuff won’t be tolerated.

Can I suggest, that en-masse, thousands gather and clean up the crap graffiti slogans that litter the walls of Northern Ireland.  Call it  Direct action for freedom from fear! I’m thinking particularly of the blood-red one pictured left.  The symbolic demonstration that ‘this is too much’ to the people nearby (who are the ones doing it, make no mistake) will demonstrate that the people won’t tolerate this stuff, and if they don’t stop, they’ll be outed.  Leaving it to the council isn’t good enough if you really, really want peace.

Leaving it to the politicians isn’t good enough either if you really, really want peace.

The painted walls as tokenised history should be next to go, but the reality of this red crap is that it legitimises the evil ideas and actions of a few thuggish types.  If you really want peace you should be prepared to assert your right to it.  Like the young soldier who threw himself onto the pizza boy.

Somerset

Harry PatchCo-incidentally this weekend, Harry Patch from Somerset has been given France’s Highest Award, the Legion d’Honneur, at the suggestion of President Sakozy.  Since his 100th birthday, Harry has come out his self-imposed silence and spoken vociferously about WW1 and warfare and killing.  Andrew Motion wrote a poem about his life.

Now watch Harry Patch speak at Passchendaele and compare and contrast his ideas and feelings with the events in Northern Ireland this weekend and Nichiren’s words at the top.