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APATHY! Indifference? Racism? No One Called 911!

In the Nov. 21, 2014 New Haven Independent we read an article titled: No On Called 911.

“Help! Help!” Bret Bird screamed. A dozen or more bystanders could see him being attacked. They could hear him. The article began.  It is written by Paul Bass; the article is extensive, and as is often the case deals with many more issues than just a common robbery that so often takes place in many communities.  There are some specifics in this story that draw us in and force us to confront several questions about our own perspectives on crimes in our communities and the broader society.  We encourage you to read the article.  Our commentary on this article is below.

 What about Human Decency or Concern for Another Human? Or Civic Engagement?

The article and the events it describes are indeed a SAD Commentary about ALL who were present except the ONE citizen who stepped in! We are grateful for one courageous soul; the one just man of Sodom!  I shout not to change them, but that they will not change me.  If only more of us could be so courageous. 

 “Some waited by the line of cabs in front of the train station. Some were busy beginning weekend travel. Two sat mere feet from the melee.

But no one responded as Bird continued screaming and wrestling with one of his assailants over an iPhone 6.”  “Nobody called 911. Nobody did anything,” she marveled. “They stood and watched.”

 Of course, we all can understand being afraid for our own safety, but if 12 people had yelled out to the thugs, or if two people had dialed 911, that would have helped.  Clearly, the thugs were not afraid to attack in the light of day; maybe they knew they could count on collective indifference.  Most likely this was not their first attack.  The reported response by the police who interviewed Mr. Bird is most informative.  Also, take note of Mr. Bird’s reported contributions to those in need at Farnum Court.

 “What were you doing there?” one city officer asked Bird. “Those are the worst projects in town.”  Talk about a loaded question filled with invectives!  Please keep in mind that this is a comment by a NH police officer; someone charged with keeping the "community" safe!  Let us seriously consider the implications of this comment.

Another officer disagreed. He selected Farnam Courts off Grand Avenue (as being the worst). Bird was more familiar with that complex; until he got rid of his car this year, he used to stop there on weekly runs delivering donated loaves of Chabaso bread to the hungry. Bird, a lifelong Mormon, said he spent three years making those deliveries as part of an effort called LDS Feed the Need.”

 It is impossible not to wonder – what would have been the reaction if Mr. Bird was a black man being attacked by white teens?  As a society we still have miles to go to be equitable.  Thank GOD for that one citizen and that Mr. Bird is alive and was able to keep his phone.  There needs to be more real consequences for punks who prey on people.  Beating up someone to steal his iPhone is about GREED and a lack of values; it is not about poverty.  There are millions of poor people of every color and ethnicity who don’t attack others for what they have.  How much do we --as a community-- contribute to the lawlessness and thuggery of young people who commit crimes when we seek to find justification for their wrong doing?

To Darnell (someone who posted a comment to the NHI article) I ask –is the answer to hand over everything that thugs demand? Where will it end? Of course life is more important, but when do we (as a community of law-abiding citizens) take a stand against thugs and violent criminals?

When countries pay ransom for release of kidnapped victims, more people get kidnapped!

The answer seems to be: finding effective ways of preventing thugs from profiting from their crimes; then citizens won’t have to make the choice – my life or my belongings. It also means that all of us as concerned citizens need to make conscious and thoughtful decisions.  Were we in Mr. Bird's predicament, would we want to be helped? Elie Wiesel: First Person Singular . Story and Silence | PBS

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