Friday, January 13, 2006

Glad I Don't Live In Long Beach, Anymore

Long Beach, CA

Well, yeah. I mean, who doesn't?

But aside from all the really nasty memories, I woke up to this news this morning:

The Long Beach Police Department is missing more than a fourth of its shotguns and an unknown number of revolvers, officials said Thursday.

For those of you playing along at home, you should know that Long Beach isn't far from, say, Compton, a town so lovingly placed in my heart. You know, that place that had an 85% jump in murders last year? Same town that had a no questions asked gun exchange (bring an Uzi walk with a new iPod!) and collected something like two hundred and twenty weapons.

Where, oh where, could some of those guns have gone? It boggles the imagination.

Sleep tight, Long Beach. The city's finest is on the job. Oh, and you might want to invest in a double layer of sheetrock for the house. Just sayin'.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just Another Statistic –Gerald’s Story
(
Names changed to protect the innocent or the guilty)

Gerald had rich dark chocolate skin, about the color of a Hershey bar. His hair was jet black, short and curly. Gerald grew up in a government housing project, not far from one of Los Angeles’ beach communities. His mother, Regina was Mexican- American. She had long black hair with caramel skin. Regina lived in the same neighborhood all her life. That’s where she met Gerald’s dad. She was sixteen when she got pregnant and Gerald’s dad began serving a life sentence only a few years after that. At 32, Regina retained her urban beauty. She was petite and feminine. In an earlier life one could imagine her being the object of desire for many men, but now she looked tired. She looked spiritually weak. After 3 children and string of draining relationships romance and the opposite sex was the last thing on her mind.

Gerald was 15. He was placed on probation for possessing a handgun. He swore that he had no gang affiliation. His story was that he carried it for protection. Gerald was stoic and obviously resistant to any type of counseling. Despite the threat of incarceration, Gerald challenged his court conditions and the Probation Department by breaking curfew and ditching school. He only agreed to comply with his anger management order to appease his mother.

After several years of counseling violent, angry and self - destructive youth you kind of get a sense of the young people who may have measure of redeemable essence inside them. Gerald had very little if any. Nevertheless my savior complex kicked in and I convinced my self he could be rescued.

Every session Gerald would search for the furthest corner of the room and isolate himself from myself and the other students in the class. He did not smile and avoided participating in class discussion. When called upon he would respond with an icy one- word answers. It became obvious to me that his participation was an exercise in “playing the game”, doing the minimum in an effort to avoid a probation violation. Nevertheless I was hoping something would seep in on accident.

As the weeks passed Gerald’s attendance began to drop. His mother desperately tried to cover for him, but eventually I had to dismiss him from the class and report his behavior to the court. I never saw Gerald again but months later I received a call from Regina his mother.

She sounded frantic on the phone, “Mr. ****** this is Regina, Gerald’s mom do you remember me?” “Of course I do”, I responded, “how is Gerald?” “Not to good she stated” I could hear in her voice she was beginning to tear up. “What happened?” I asked. “Gerald is in juvenile hall. He was arrested for attempted murder. I was wondering if, if there is anything you could do to help?” “They want to try him as an adult.”
I paused and thought about a documentary film I’ve seen about 100 times. I make it a point to show it to all my adolescent clients. Gerald saw it too. The film is called Juvies and it documents the lives of several children in Los Angeles County Juvenile Hall. All the children in the film are facing lengthy and sometimes life sentences in adult prison. As convicted felons many of them would be forced to serve decades in adult prisons. Some of the youth are as young as 14 years old and are at risk of physical and sexual assault at the hands of 30, 40, or 50- year murderers and child molesters. Suicide is often common for these young offenders. I came back to myself and asked Regina, “What do you need?” The best I could do is write a letter detailing Gerald’s participation in my class that which was not much.

I’ve made attempts to find out what ever happened to Gerald but his mother never responded to my inquiries.

Daybreak Counseling Service
www.daybreakservices.com