Stop The Violence
When I was in high school, I remember hearing stories about kids who were being swarmed at the Eaton Centre. If a group of teens wanted your pair of Doc Martens, they simple swarmed you until you handed them over or you were going to get beat up. As a guy who wore Doc Martens and frequently visited the Yonge and Dundas area, I remember being particularly interested in these tales classmates were telling.
Fifteen years later, that legend sounds like a story straight out of the 50s. All year long we've been hearing that gun violence has increased in the city but yesterday's news of gun play really pissed me off. At about 17:00 EST, outside the Eaton Centre at Yonge and Dundas during the hustle and bustle of Boxing Day, gunfire broke out between two groups. 10 to 15 people in their late teens to early 20s were involved as six people were wounded and one innocent 15-year old girl was killed. She was standing outside a Foot Locker store, shopping with her family, when she was shot in the head.
I sincerely believe kids today are more brazen about these activities than they would have been even ten years ago. These people who fire guns into crowds of Boxing Day shoppers have no fear and simply don't care. 52 people have died in Toronto in 2005 due to a gunshot wound. This 15-year old girl wasn't shot at an after hours club at 03:00 but was shot while shopping at the Eaton Centre on Boxing Day. Are we simply getting a taste of what big American cities have been experiencing for decades? Have we indeed lost our innocence as Detective Sargent Savas Kyriacou said yesterday? What's the solution? Is there any hope for the future?
I have plenty of questions, but few answers. When shooters are as brazen as this I'm particularly fearful. Lawless, fearless, lost souls with access to firearms and a tragic agenda are in a different category altogether than the swarming groups we were warned about by our peers.
I remember in 1989 a collection of popular rappers who called themselves the Stop The Violence All-Stars recorded "Self Destruction". The Stop The Violence All-Stars were KRS-One, Stetsasonic, Kool Moe Dee, MC Lyte, Just-Ice, Doug E. Fresh, Heavy D, Public Enemy and Ms. Melodie. I was a big Public Enemy fan at the time, and I remember Chuck D's line at the end of this single. "To revolve to evolve to self respect cause we got to keep ourselves in check or else it's self destruction, ya headed for self destruction".
I think Chuck D nailed it. It's all about self respect. Those with self respect don't fire bullets amidst a crowd of shoppers. Those with self respect don't shoot innocent 15-year old girls in the head. Those with self respect don't acquire guns in the first place.
All we need to do to reverse this trend is give our young people self respect. It's that simple.