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The city wept for this golden child...yet they weep not for those who fit not their own style.
Tears For Savannah, GA.
While Leah and I were vacationing at our favorite place, Tybee Island, Ga. Over the Christmas holidays an unfortunate chain of events took place in near by Savannah that sullied my view somewhat of this most wonderful city. What took place was a very sad event that has seemed to bring about even more division amongst it citizens than ever before. It all started when a young woman from a very well to do family went for a stroll with friends of hers through “Orleans Square.” At 3 am. It was here that her life was tragically cut short by a robber’s bullet. The fact that she became a victim to a senseless crime was bad enough in itself, but what in my opinion made matters worse were the comments made by a close friend of the family in response to the shooting.
Mr. David Simons obviously upset over this took action in the form of helping organize a committee to reclaim Savannah. He then fired off emails to many of the downtown businesses urging them to get involved in fighting crime since in his words…”crime now has a face, and it’s the face of someone we all know”. He went on to further exclaim that this crime was not just some tourist thing or another crack head shooting, but this crime had a face and it was the face of this well to do and respected young woman and of course this act would cause more of an outcry than in his words…”“It’s not going to generate the same response when you have a couple of crack heads running around shooting each other”.
This was the straw that broke this camels back. As soon as I got back to the room, I immediately fired off an open letter to this Mr. Simon’s to try and explain to him that crime has always had a face. I finished the letter to the editor, which I have written below and submitted it to the Savannah Morning News. I received a reply from the editor who told me they would be glad to run it if I could trim it down to 250 words…trim it…Ha. I wanted to add even more, in fact I wish I could have had a face to face discussion with Mr. Simon’s over this…for there is much that I have to say to those who separate themselves from others and enshroud their pious attitudes in the cloak of wealth and position…nevertheless, my open letter to this man is listed below. Comments and discussion on this are most welcome, for if the chance were to ever present itself, I would be more than glad to show Mr. Simon’s all the faces of crime.
An open letter of reply to Mr. Simons based on an article by Scott Larson
Savannah Morning News 12-28-05
“Crime Now Has A Face”
Mr. Simons, I am a perennial tourist to your area and currently enjoying the splendid culture of your wonderful city. However, I am really very offended by your response to the recent and very unfortunate shooting of Ms. Jennifer Ross as reported in the Savannah Morning News 12-28-05. I therefore take issue with your remark that “Crime now has a face for many of us who only looked at crime as a tourist thing or a drug deal gone bad”. I am sure that even you are a tourist sometime yourself and if you and your family were to be vacationing somewhere and God forbid, an act of violence were to touch you in a personal way, would you not desire and want the officials and members of society in the city you are vacationing to treat the violation you experienced as a matter of critical importance? How would you feel if someone in position within the city disregarded and nullified the importance of this act of violence against you my merely regulating it to a “Tourist Thing”?
I can assure you that crime has always had a face regardless of the prominence of the victim. I guess what I find so appalling is that a man of your current position and stature in life, would show such little regard for any who may fall outside of your social circle, i.e. your remark “It’s not going to generate the same response when you have a couple of crack heads running around shooting each other”. Remarks such as these are not only heartless, but also biased to the point of inferring that a life outside a certain social arena is not worth as much, or deserving of any attention. I am of the opinion that all life is sacred and precious, and should be treated accordingly.
Granted there are those who you not so kindly put live outside the law and therefore place themselves into harms way. Nevertheless, this does not absolve society of its responsibility for a safe environment for all of its citizens. The formation of the “Save Our Savannah” watch group is a positive sign which if done in a proper and judicious manner will benefit Savannah and its surrounding communities. I applaud Mr. Michael Sullivan in his efforts to bring in people of “clout to help victims of crime who do not have influence” This is proper and positive action replete with constructive words of action.
In closing, I would have to say that it is the indifference that you portrayed in defining what merited immediate and decisive response and what was just another “crack head shooting”. By the simple fact that you were defensive in you remarks by saying “ This could have happened to a prominent black person or their child walking from a restaurant”, gives proof that you not only separate groups by race or social status, but share an uneasy aloofness with others in your tight knit circle.
When someone is sick, a doctor looks to find the cause of the illness and then treats it accordingly. It is much the same with society; one has to look for the cause and then treat it. Putting a band-aid on a gaping wound does not heal the condition, but merely treats it superficially. What it will take to heal this sickness is action from people such as you who have and hold prominent positions in life. It will take people who will look at other people for what they are, human beings. It will take dedication from individuals who can see beyond the barriers that separate those who are blessed financially from those who are less fortunate. Many programs currently exist which facilitate and promote stability in crime-infested neighborhoods, but programs alone will not bring an end to violence. It will require action from those who are able to provide more to the programs than a mere figurehead presence.
I do wish to add to this letter by saying that my hopes and prayers are with Ms. Ross and her family and at no point does this letter intend to dismiss the criminal actions of those responsible for this tragic shooting. I fully advocate the apprehension and prosecution of those responsible for this callous act as well as any other acts of violence against any citizen regardless of their stature in life. You see Mr. Simons, we are all human and we all hurt. Not once do I think that the mother of one of the young men of “just another crack head shooting” could grieve any less than the mother of a child of social / political stature.
It is when we separate ourselves from others in our minds and hearts that we truly separate ourselves from our true purpose in life. It is my hope that you will come to the understanding of why I was so offended by your remarks. I also have bore in mind that you are presently upset and concerned for the welfare of your friend daughter, I understand this and share empathy with you concerning this. I hope that she recovers fully and goes on to lead a normal and productive life. I just know that even though I am “Just A Tourist”, I know that if this was my daughter, son or wife which was done harm, I too would be angry, but I would not point fingers and blame groups that may fall beneath the number of zeros that I have in my bank accounts.
Sincerely and respectfully
J. Allen Wilson
PO BOX 464
Belton, SC. 29627
Reader Reviews for
"Tears For Savannah, GA."
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|Reviewed by David Hightower
|Allen, Savannah is also one of my favorite cities and I have often been a tourist there, too, and have met many friends there. I applaud your reply. Each death anywhere affects us all. - David|
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|sad commentary on our country, timely work|
|Reviewed by Nordette Adams
|Hi, Jay. Thoughtful piece, provocative. In this country, especially in urban areas, the media and citizens do have a tendency to politicize the deaths of certain people or types of people as though one life is more important than another. It's sad and makes a statement about us as a people, but it's the way it is. I've seen this happen in cities like NYC. If it's a tourist who gets killed, the law-enforcement machine seems to kick into high gear. Why? They fear loss of dollars. If it's a beloved or wealthy member of the community, then the whole city mourns and pressures law enforcement to "find the animal who did this!" as though the children of the poor or less-connected aren't getting killed all the day long. Whether we like it or not, Americans get moving faster when money's at stake or when the person murdered reflects what Americans hold dear. If a leader has a special agenda against a certain ethnic group, he/she will often use murder and crime as a means to target that ethnic group. I see this approach down in the New Orleans area frequently. Some in authority behave as though they don't understand basic human nature: if you alienate a certain part of the community, then why are you shocked that they don't trust you (I'm speaking of the noncriminals in a crime-seized area. They become equally untrusting of police after being repeatedly insulted by them.)
Politicizing a person's death to promote one's own personal agenda also diminishes the life of the person who died because communities begin to clash and the person's death gets lost in propaganda. If the leader would stick to words that drew the community together instead of divided the community, then the focus would be we all have value and all deserve justice, even the victims whose lifestyle led them to an untimely death. If we'd live in hope that people can be changed, that people can be saved from their environments and themselves, then perhaps we'd find our way to upholding justice rather than demeaning others. If we'd be equally outraged at all loss of life no matter who's lost to death, then perhaps we'd begin to see all circles of society shun those who we know for a fact perpetuate violence as individuals and stop lumping people into groups and so antagonize entire segments of the population. Until we adopt a genuine attitude (as opposed to lip service) that all are equal in essence, we'll only see more of the same, violence, disrespect, and hatred all over the world.
Sorry to write so much. Your piece pushed a button. ~~Nordette
|Reviewed by john zimmerman
|good reply --
all life is sacred an the untimely death of any human being deminishes me.Unless we see our own face in the face of the murderer, and the victim, we denie our own nature
|Reviewed by Cynth'ya firstname.lastname@example.org
|The shooting is sad whether in an alley or a tourist site; whether a president's child or a laid off single parent's. Agree, Agree, Agree! People should want to make change because of the situation, not because of who was affected in the situation.
cynth'ya lewis reed
|Reviewed by Aberjhani
|An excellent and deeply insightful article Allen. I hate to sound cynical, but welcome to my hometown. AND: thank you for putting so much of your heart and soul into this write. Peace--
|Reviewed by Felix Perry
|Well said Allen, all are equal under God's eyes is it not written?
|Reviewed by Jerry Bolton (Reader)
|I understand exactly where you are coming from. The fact is that the loss of life is painful and the agony of that pain can, and does repeatedly, have a tendency for people to say things which may not be the correct thing to say. You say that he "separate groups by race or social status" is true as far as it goes. But that is the nature of the beast. Race has been a deciding factor in our history and there is a steady drumbeat of the "race" thing all over the news media, TV, newspaper, etc. these day, ad nauseum. What I think the man had in mind in his remarks about taking the city back is the awful crime problem which besets every large city in America and some not so large. I understand his rage, as well as understanding your response, both seem to be knee-jerk reactions.|
|Reviewed by Ed Matlack
|Point taken, match won...
Though I know not of the city nor of its politics & social status/climbers, I do know of similar places where similar crimes take place. They are committed by similar folks, those both of a disregard for others pain and those by folks that are as well, "crack heads" or users looking for money to support their habits...
That said & stated, let us remember that we all have families and we all feel for others when something like this happens, even those of us with many "zero's" behind our names on our bank accounts...if Mr Simons did not feel pain, he would not be speaking out against those that visit this city in the callous nature in which he has so far spoken and to be honest, Mr. Wilson, I am quite sure we all would speak out against all that you have too spoken of herein...
I would think that Mr Simons is venting, just as you, Mr Wilson did vent after reading of the callous way Mr Simons did speak out against "tourists" in "HIS" city...Can any of us blame him?
I say no, a resounding NO, I do state and after deep thought, I am willing to bet that Mr Simons would retract his statement as I know that Mr Wilson would do the same...
As I am a tourist in some places and a person who lived in a place that is rampant with tourism in the summer months, I know the kind of feelings both have, and both feel the same, in a way only they can understand...
Both of you make sense, both, as well need to vent an anger, and both can do for the other a service simply by hearing what is said...I hope I make myself clear & that you both find a way to remedy the situation in Savannah, as when I was a tourist there, I found it to be a wonderful place with wonderful people...Sincerely, Ed