published Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Shootings must stop, and patterns offer clues

When is the shooting going to stop? And why can't we make it end?

We know lots of facts about the more than 60 shootings that have injured or killed people in Chattanooga since Jan. 1.

Think about that. More than 60 shooting injuries or deaths in little, beautiful, fun, peaceful-looking Chattanooga where the river winds quietly through green and blue mountains.

We're averaging about a shooting with an injury every three days here.

A week ago today, police reported that a woman heading home from a shopping trip drove herself to the hospital after she realized she'd been shot in the side after she was in the vicinity of a gunfight in a store parking lot.

The 23-year-old told police she noticed people yelling at each other in the lot and heard gunshots around 10 p.m. last Sunday on Brainerd Road. She said it wasn't until a few minutes later that she realized she'd been hit by one of the bullets.

In the first three months of the year, Times Free Press staffers collected the names of 38 people who were shot or involved -- sometimes the trigger person -- in shootings. Of those 38, 26 have police records: 20 had been in juvenile delinquent hearings and six had been tried for some crime as adults.

The 18 in Juvenile Court had a total of 66 delinquent charges. Ten were felonies involving violence -- three aggravated assaults, three aggravated robberies, two attempted murders, one especially aggravated robbery and one felony reckless endangerment charge.

But those 18 juveniles also had 10 felony property charges, five possession of weapon charges (not all guns), seven drug possession charges and 34 misdemeanor charges -- including 14 simple assaults.

Does anyone notice a pattern here?

There's more.

We also collected school information on our list of shooters and victims. Of the 20 youngest individuals (all 21 or under), 14 were Hamilton County students, but only five graduated from high school. One died, one went to jail, three were transferred to state youth institutions, one dropped out, another withdrew to Job Corps and transferred to out-of-state schools.

Nine were D and F students, four were C students, one was an A-B student. Four had records of in-school suspensions and detentions. Five had records of school suspensions, expulsions or orders to alternative schools. Only five had no discipline entries.

So the pattern grows more clear: These youths are behind in school, they eventually leave school, sometimes by their own decisions but sometimes not.

After losing traction in school, they have been in and out of crime trouble for years. Even early on, these youngsters were gang members waiting to happen.

Often police discount the gang aspect, saying that while those involved may have gang tattoos or clothing, the shots were fired over a girl or woman, or during a drug deal gone bad, or whatever.

But gang involvement shouldn't be discounted. Gang culture is gun culture. It's violent. Period. Gangs, like other groups, use guns as a show of status, a rite of passage. But gangs also are using the guns as a tool to settle disputes.

And yes, gangs are fed by poverty. In communities where few have jobs, learning is an uphill battle because the youngsters have less extras to ready them for the first grade. That can become a generational treadmill of more poverty and future learning problems -- and of course future gang culture.

Finally, after years of waving off an emerging Chattanooga gang problem as "wanna-bes" the city and its residents are waking up to see the entrenched gang culture here.

In April, after "bloody March," gang leaders themselves saw the problem growing out of hand and arranged a truce.

"Bloody March" was the gang leaders' description for a spate of daily shootings described as retaliations following violence after the death of a Howard High student who was shot in a vacant house a few blocks from campus. Between March 5 and March 25, police worked 14 shootings in which someone was killed or injured.

The truce worked for a while. But now Chattanooga is aiming to -- and must -- bolster the effort with relationships, jobs and other efforts.

At the end of June, former Howard School Principal Paul Smith will take a pay cut to become the city's public safety coordinator -- a new position that largely will be a one-man coordination outfit to replace the gang task force.

And the police effort is increasing, too. The city is expending overtime to staff downtown and North Shore's Coolidge Park with 10 extra officers all summer.

A shooting every third day is absurd for a city like Chattanooga.

It's time to look at the patterns and address the root issues.

It's time to stop the shooting.

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klifnotes said...

The issue is more complex.

On school suspensions, it's easy to accumulate suspension, that often lead to expulsions, when students are suspended for anything and everything from wearing a white shirt on a green shirt day, or because when measuring the hem of their skirt to their knee doesn't meet the length requirement according to school policy. Or a student is suspended for entering the classroom seconds after the school bell rings, because he/she had trouble getting into his/her locker to get material needed for that class. Or a teacher with issues tosses a students homework then accuse them of not turning it in. Overtime, all that takes a toil on the human spirit; physically, emotionally and mentally. Then there's total breakdown and collapse at some point.

I too remember when the gang issue appeared on the scene back in the 1980s. Around about the same time plans to gentrify targeted communities were being discussed. Both appeared to have a connection even way back then. The first to justify the latter? Did the problem grow and take flight from there? Were gangs manufactured to justify gentrification? And the problem just grew and grew, getting out of control, until it exploded like a supernova spilling its guts all over and everywhere?

See: NewYorker/October 3, 2012 issue titled: Throwaways.

When schools and communities are run like jails and prisons, it shouldn't be at all surprising when the occupants begin to behave like inmates.

The greatest disappointment and failures of the black community has been, unlike most who prepare their young for higher education, school and beyond, over time they came to prep their young earlier and earlier on to fill jails and prisons.

June 23, 2013 at 8:54 a.m.
AndrewLohr said...

Root issues? Get married first, make love and have children only afterwards. It works. God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Floozie. Repent.

June 23, 2013 at 8:56 a.m.
klifnotes said...

LOL!! Now that's really creative, andy. Up and earlier with such a sense of humor?

June 23, 2013 at 8:59 a.m.
jesse said...

One good indicator of whats wrong can be found by monitoring what goes on in Judge Rebbecca Sterns court room!

The justice system holds the key to help alleviate the prob.BUT all they seem to care about is cutting felons loose as fast as they can!

June 23, 2013 at 5:33 p.m.
klifnotes said...

jesse said: The justice system holds the key to help alleviate the prob.BUT all they seem to care about is cutting felons loose as fast as they can!

If the rules applied to everyone across the board, and without favoritism, maybe we could agree. But the rules don't. The rules are very selective. There are individuals with positions of authority, and with the power to forever change, alter and or even end a life, who've committed some pretty serious crimes. Crimes the average citizen would be behind bars for a decade or so if not life. Yet, they get to keep their jobs, and in many cases have even received promotions.

Now, if ever those sentencing rules begin to be applied to everyone, regardless of who they are and who they know, I'll bet you would be the first to scream the system needs to lighten up.

June 23, 2013 at 7:23 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Four more shot last night, one killed, and as usual Klifnotes refuses to blame the individual(s) doing the shooting.

June 23, 2013 at 9:25 p.m.
klifnotes said...

LB, I've never refused to blame anyone whose reckless and careless and have no respect for human life. Not even when they carelessly and recklessly leave a gun lying around for some toddler to pick up and kill themselves or a playmate. In this instance, however, I'm talking about cause and effect. Actually, several causes and effects. Some with devious intent and cold hands manipulating, driving and controlling the outcome for selfish gain(s).

If no one is willing to seriously address the cause and effect, then they're just playing games and going in circles, pretending they're out to correct the problem(s) *by any means necessary.

The individuals committing these horrific acts against one another obviously have lost any an all respect for human life (whatever has driven them to that point). On the other hands, the ones pretending to be on the fixin side of the issue, when in reality they're manipulating and agitating the problem, have little to no regard for finding common ground, peace and respect for human life either.

June 24, 2013 at 8:40 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

The cause is the one parent household that is lauded by progressives. Even then, the individual coming out of that household has a choice whether to murder or not. Most do not, proving that it's not impossible. No more excuses, they just continue the problems.

June 24, 2013 at 9:23 a.m.
klifnotes said...

LB, the cause runs much much deeper than one parent households. There have been two parent households where kids turned out much worse, even murdered their parents, turned to drugs, alcohol and prostitution (especially drugs, alcohol, prostitution for children coming from strict religious upbringing), and one parent households where one or both parents were drug addicts or alcoholics and the child or children turned out just fine.

There are so many factors at play here that what's shown to the naked eye is only the outcome or end results. The others (truth/triggers) will likely never come to light and be exposed. Even they were exposed or brought to light, individuals would remain in denial.

June 24, 2013 at 3:01 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Klifnotes, open your own eyes. The vast majority of the worst cases come from one parent homes where discipline is rarely enforced even at an early age. Blaming the schools, police, and other authority figures only gives those committing crimes a crutch.

Do you think one parent homes from the outset-this doesn't include widows, etc, are a good thing? The left applauds such mothers as heroic.

June 24, 2013 at 4:41 p.m.

While I don't see much hope in curbing the outcome of people already falling through the educational system I can see the benifit of pre K. If for no other reason than the parents that have abducated thier responsability to thier own children. This ties in nicely with a call of tax reform to stop rewarding the breeding habits of the welfare class. Simply breeding for a tax credit and a larger voucher has led us into an unsustainable model and to ignore it allows it to fester. You can talk jobs but who wants to hire a highschool drop out? Volkswagons largest complaint is not enough educated workers in this area. So if it will indeed take a village to raise a child then lets agree that it must start at an earlier age. By starting and expanding pre k programs we can get a person involved in these childrens lives that will show them what stability is. Someone who says "good job" and "way to go " to a 2-3 year old is someone who can reach into poverty and show this child what hope and love are about. By the time these children reach 1st grade it its too late. They have been exposed to ignorence and blight from day one and are already repeating the pattern of failure that these breeders are exposing them to.

June 24, 2013 at 5:46 p.m.
klifnotes said...

LaughingBoy said... Klifnotes, open your own eyes. The vast majority of the worst cases come from one parent homes where discipline is rarely enforced even at an early age.

And you know for a fact discipline is rarely enforced in those homes? I'll take the opposite approach and say, whether it's a single parent home or a home with both parents, most children who are abused or where strict over the top discipline are used are the ones most likely to become abusers themselves by turning to criminal behavior.

LB said... Blaming the schools, police, and other authority figures only gives those committing crimes a crutch.

Who's blaming? I I'm only suggesting or implying those two can be contributing factors. There are educators and other adults of authority who are abusers too.

LB said: Do you think one parent homes from the outset-this doesn't include widows, etc, are a good thing? The left applauds such mothers as heroic.

I've never said one parent homes are a good thing. I'm just saying that one parent homes aren't necessarily a bad thing, and that there are often other contributing factors at play. I've not known specifically anyone from the left, right or center applauding single motherhood or claiming single mothers are heroic. Don't know how you came to that conclusion. In a perfect world, there would be father, mother 2.5 kids with a white picket fence. But the world isn't perfect, and little J.R. or Missy wouldn't murder mom and dad for taking away their driving privileges as disciplinary measure. Left, right or center, most of us are just realistic.

June 24, 2013 at 7:48 p.m.
klifnotes said...
  • By the time these children reach 1st grade it its too late(

**Actually, it's by third grade. Kindergarten, they enter school all eager, bright eyed, creative, exploring and curious. First grade, the same eager to learn, bright eyed students. Then by second grade the sullenness begin to show. By third grade looking into their eyes is like looking into a vast nothingness. As if their very souls have been taken away, their spirits, curiosity, creativity has left them. The young boys, especially, no longer even want to be touched. Where they once would run with open arms to be hugged, by third grade they jerk away at the slightest implication of a simple touch on the shoulder or reject the slightest compliment. If the problems were directly tied to the home environment they enter kindergarten with that demeanor and attitude. It's obvious something has taken place within the learning environment to cause such a drastic change.

June 24, 2013 at 8 p.m.
chet123 said...




June 25, 2013 at 12:05 p.m.
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