Answer to homicide baffles logic at first

I rode the 52 Scott/Hirsch bus back home Saturday after spending the three hours wandering around campus asking about the murder. It was a confusing day.

Seeing the prostitute standing at McGowen and Live Oak reminds me that crime never takes a vacation. With a killer on the loose and a woman of the night still soliciting customers, nothing is out of the ordinary.

It reminds me of campus visitor Firaz Akmal’s words earlier that day.

As my colleague Yvette Davilla and I were canvassing the parking lot of Robertson Stadium, we headed toward a group that had music playing.

We saw a disc jockey set up with carnival tents and a group of about 50 students, alumni and friends gearing up for the basketball double-header against Rice.

We thought it profound to find people so easily enjoying their day not much more than 100 yards from the scene of the recent homicide.

Akmal was visiting our campus with a group of buddies, and when asked about the crime, he said, ‘This is Houston- you get shot.’

Akmal’s friend Jeremy Parks agreed with his assessment.

‘Cold. Shouldn’t have did it, but it’s Houston,’ Parks said.

These words sum up my feelings as my day was winding down. Students, this is Houston. This is not Katy, Sugar Land or Cypress; this is Houston proper, and Houston streets are tough. They are dangerous. The police can only do so much, and in neighborhoods such as Third Ward, there is an unwritten law not regulated by Congress.

Some people on campus have been calling for more police patrols, cops on bicycles and cameras since the latest rash of campus crime began. Even if we could put a cop on every corner, is that what we want? How many is enough, and when we have enough, what happens when something still goes wrong?

Imagine the infringement on our privacy we would be subjected to if we implement some of these tried-and-failed tactics cops on every corner. Think about how many times you will have your backpack searched or wait to pass through metal detectors at building entrances with guards all creating a fence around us.

This is the response a lot of our nation’s public schools have made. It simply did not end violence. Even if we do get to carry guns ourselves, since when did adding more dynamite blunt any explosion?

The guy who was killed was homeless. Tom Ziska of local station Fox 26 told me the cops believe the man was asleep when he was shot. This wasn’t even a robbery. No offense to anyone, but there are much better targets on this campus for someone who is trying to make a quick illegal buck. This was violence for violence’ sake.

Houston Police Department homicide investigator Todd Miller said there were no signs of robbery. Specifically, he deemed the crime ‘a random act of violence.’

When minimum wage won’t even buy enough food, and schools could care less whether their students pass or fail and sometimes would rather see a kid go to jail so they can quantify him ‘other’ on official stats, you will see violence in the surrounding community.

The ethnic Irish began the thug life up in the Five Points area near New York, and ever since then gangs, graft, and violence have chased poverty, always catching up.

We sweep it under the rug and demonize those who would stoop to violence, but I ask you, if you grew up on the streets of Third Ward or anything like it, would you feel the same as you do growing up elsewhere?

I’m not apologizing or trying to excuse it, but it seems a pattern that transcends color, state or city. All poverty-ridden neighborhoods are like this – from the natives in Maui, Hawaii to the streets of H-Town.

No answers exist for this trend, and few will be provided by our administration or police force. What happened Saturday morning went deeper than the issues those institutions can handle.

We are in college. We have the chance to study the true causes of these issues. On this campus, we are training future anthropologists, social workers and thinkers. Let’s be the campus that gives America an answer for what happened Saturday – why a man was shot in his sleep for no apparent reason.’

The explanation is within our grasp because it is a pattern with much precedent. Huge security initiatives will not solve our problems overnight and neither will anything else, save actual attention to the root problem.

As you graduate and leave our school, remember that, be it only for a little while or not, for a few years we are all members of the Third Ward community. ‘Give back to your community,’ is what my mama always taught me.

Abdul Khan is a political science and history senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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