A young girl, on the way home from school, is followed by a large group of her classmates who are instigating a fight between her and another female student. Violence Interrupters keep a close watch but the violent act ensues anyway. The student is trounced by another female student, leaving her with a bruised face, scratches, and what would certainly become a badly bruised or black eye. This all happens outside of nearby storefronts, just blocks away from her school.
MPD officers drive to the scene, sirens blasting and flashing lights. They exit their cars, circle them, reenter their cars and drive away. The encounter occurs in front of a row of small businesses but one is designated a Safe Place, where youths who are in need of crisis-related help can get shelter. The owner invites the student inside and attempts to console her as she wails incessantly over the beating she received and the wounds she sees in the mirror. Soon, family members arrive to escort her home and the story ends there. Or does it?
MPD officers say they are not allowed to intervene in school brawls. Their presence, they know, can exacerbate a situation. As the nation pauses to reflect on the police-involved killing of George Floyd on Mary 25, 2020, new policies apparently dictate a hands-off approach to youth-involved street brawls.
The team of violence interrupters concurs, making their role unclear, as well. A Safe Place business owner may offer temporary shelter but they’re helpless, too, when the parties depart, nameless, and with no direction for next steps.
Incidents like this can stir up an explosion of more violence that sometimes result in the deaths of individuals involved or innocent bystanders. It shows how the victims and the helpers are left feeling helpless to resolve these unnecessary acts.
With the sad and unfortunate loss of lives in Buffalo, California and Texas, there’s something unsettling about ignoring unresolved anger. Are we witnessing what happens when anger festers? People want to make a difference but knowing what to do demands a greater conversation.
When President Biden says, “We must act,” it begs the question . . . ”How?”