Yesterday, Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard publicly delivered a letter to gang members.
John Hand of the Democrat and Chronicle reports, “Dismayed by a nearly 80 percent spike in gang-related shootings last year, the (police) department has reinstalled a strategy to break up the gangs and curb street violence.
The program includes rounding up gang members, bringing them in to talk with police, gang interdiction officials, probation officers, and others, for meetings called “call-ins” and putting them on notice that they are being targeted and will be arrested if their criminal activities don’t stop.”
In his letter Chief Sheppard wrote, “We care about you as individuals, but you are being watched and you’ll be judged by the company you keep.”
To threaten individuals with consequences that are meaningless is an act of futility. Gang members live their lives “on notice” and have done so since they were born.
Poverty put them “on notice” that they were destined for jail. The public school system put them “on notice” that they were destined to fail. They were put “on notice” as soon as they were made to realize that they were Black and Hispanic and male.
There are two things evident here that most seem to miss.
Teenage gang members used to be infants and toddlers that knew nothing of guns or violence, they had to be taught.
Teenage gang members used to be students in a system of education that did not care about them as individuals and did not teach them to care about themselves or anyone else as individuals.
These young men and women have been “on notice” but have never been “noticed” for their gifts and talents, they have never been respected as human beings, never been convinced that they are truly wonderful and have so many positive things to offer this world to make it a better place to live.
Chief Sheppard is putting our children “on notice” without noticing that they are our children because he too has fallen prey to the mis-education that keeps us from loving one another.
Join the Movement to Save Our Children!