September 28, 2023

Bigger investments needed to build young lives

Houston is not Chicago or New Orleans. Houston in not Los Angeles or Oakland. One of the reasons that Houston will not become Fort Apache is the swift work of the Houston Police Department and the partnership that exists between the police and community.

Almost before we could blink, suspects in the murder of New Orleans police Officer Everett Briscoe were in custody. Sadly, Officer Briscoe’s partner also went on to glory before the third suspect could be apprehended. Even if the first two suspects claim they were not the actual shooters, because of the parties’ provision of the law, even if you didn’t pull the trigger in an assault or murder, you are likely to be equally charged as the killer. These young men will be old as Methuselah when they are eligible for parole. It is likely they will wish for Hades after the verdict of the “Hanging Judge and Jury.”

This tragedy is a teachable moment for young people and citizens. First, it tells us that the grim reaper can come at blinding speed in the circumstances that are calm and serene. Before you can gulp your craft beer and attack your appetizer, the adversary is demanding your soul. How tenuous life is.

I will never forget when 15-year-old Marsai Murry was shot at the Hightower vs. Willow Ridge football game. It is true that bullets have no name for Marsai was not a target. I will never forget that the assailant said before his sentencing. “I am not a fiend; the prosecutor has pictured me as a monster, but I am not that guy. I made a mistake, and I will be forever sorry.” Nevertheless, another child and another man has gone.

In the Galleria attempted robbery / murder last month, one of the accused robbers accosted another patron at gun point. The patron reported that the robber said to her, and I paraphrase, “you don’t have to get shot if you cooperate.” Since the advent of New Jack City, a new type of street criminal has emerged. Although the victim cooperates and surrenders their jewels, they are often popped.

In the late 1990’s, Kashmere High School honor roll student and star athlete was with his girlfriend, who was  visiting his home and watching the Lakers playoff game. After the game ended, he walked her to the nearby bus stop across from his house. Three brothers, 25, 18, and 17 were carousing about and decided to rob Tramaine. Believe it or not, this was their third or fourth felony attempt for that day. Tramaine offered no resistance, but he was executed at the bus stop. The young men were eligible for the death penalty, but the mom of the deceased had no stomach for more carnage. Only the 17-year-old escaped life imprisonment.

Unless we get a grip, perception will become reality. The “Wild WEST” can reign in Houston. Houston is the city where America’s urban future is to be worked out. Bigger investments are needed to build young lives rather than repair and incarcerate them. Budgets must expand for modern and smart policing. Response times can go down, but more dollars are necessary to expand the force. However, a bigger factor is community leaders and parents building strong communities where youth can taste their productive futures.

Officer Everitt and friend, Dyrin “D.J.” Riculfy, were visiting transplanted ZULU Social and Charity Club members in Houston. The Zulus are known for their second line parades and their civic responsibility projects. While he came to Houston to vacation, perhaps we can pour a libation in the name of the slain officers and summon some courage to do our job in making this city safe for locals and our-of-towners.

Let’s mourn with the victims’ families, salute Chief Finner and the HPD homicide detectives and stop living puny lives. There is no time left. Don’t just live a “long” life, live a “quality” life because we never know how close or when the grim reaper will close the distance.

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