A 15 year old boy was beaten in broad daylight on the streets of Milwaukee yesterday afternnoon. Although the precise cause has not beeen determined, he died at the hospital one hour later.
Charlie Sykes links to a blogger known as Cantankerous at Ask Me Later who wonders:
How does something like this happen at 2 o'clock in the afternoon? Is it reasonable to believe that not a single soul was around the intersection of 1st and Center St. when this crime occurred? Is it reasonable to think that nobody, anywhere could have done something to help this kid?
Cantankerous goes on to say:
The fact that yet another crime like this can happen, and in the middle of broad daylight should turn a glaring eye back on the community in which it happened. When will the people who live in these communities decide that they've had enough?
As I have blogged before, I think that conservatives - at least Christian conservatives - cannot be indifferent to problems of the central city. Its misery diminishes us all. But we believe that no amount of money and no set of social programs will address that misery without the restoration of the institutions and habits of civil society. Before a community can be helped, it must be a community.
And there are people in Milwaukee's central city that have had enough. Shortly after this incident, I was in the studios of WMCS appearing on Eric Von's show. During a break, the show's producer called in to say that the station was being bombarded with calls about a boy who had just been beaten to death near Malcolm X Academy. Why wasn't the station reporting on it? That word of this had spread through the community before it was reported on any news outlet suggests that there are people in the community who are not at all indifferent about what happens there.
(Eric's producer tracked the story down about ten minutes later, interrupting a fantastical riff by Robert Miranda about how the US produces terrorism.)
Yet Cantankerous' question remains. How could this happen in broad daylight? Why didn't anyone call the police? Maybe there is an answer to those questions here, but, if not, it wouldn't be the first time that citizens ignored violent crime.
Can a community become dominated by lawlessness unless it has, in some ways, tolerated it? If that is so, how do we change that? How do we empower the folks who "bombarded" WMCS with phone calls over the people who wear (and sell) "stop snitchin' t- shirts? What can conservatives contribute?