i recently began a new blog series called ’10 spot’ in which i’d be crafting lists of the top 10 songs from artists of my choosing. i kicked off the series a couple months back with my 10 spots for the black keys and kanye west and since then, i’ve followed up with outkast. now, i thought i’d give a shout out to this weekend’s riverfest festivities.
yesterday afternoon, in the relatively quiet capitol view neighborhood, two peoples’ lives came to an end while another was left with life-threatening injuries.
just after mid-day, 19-year old charles murry, jr. entered a home on thayer street and before leaving, shot the 2 inhabitants. after fleeing the home, murry was shot by police and pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
as the events unfolded live on twitter (and in subsequent local news outlets’ accounts), i found myself particularly engaged. first and foremost, this is just a few houses down from where we lived several years ago. this was our neighborhood. this was our street. this was our neighbors. secondly, it’s not so much that i can’t look away from a train wreck, but more that my ears always perk when there’s violence and crime in neighborhoods near where i live. i’ll get to why i’m so particularly interested in these incidents shortly.
a couple days ago, max brantley, on the arkansas blog, posted a list of city employees organized by place of residency (little rock or non-little rock). the most skewed numbers toward non-little rock residents—confirming brantley’s suspicions—were police and fire employees.
non-little rock fire department employees outnumber little rock employees by an almost 3 to 1 margin (295 to 110). despite the margin being more narrow, the far more troubling numbers, to me, are non-little rock police employees who outnumber little rock employees by more than 100 (365 to 252).
i think i first heard about occupy wall street, like others, on the news. my reaction was equal parts interest and dismissiveness. on one hand, the very brief reporting offered some of the reasons for the protests and they were things that mildly resonated with me. on the other hand, though, i assumed, like other protests, that this one would fizzle out after about 24 hours at best. these hippies surely couldn’t turn this protest into a movement.
this past weekend, i had the privilege of spending the weekend at the arkansas juvenile detention center in alexander. i participated as the “spiritual director” for a ministry event called kairos torch (a part of an ongoing ministry called kairos).
there’s a number of stories i could share of young men (ranging from 14 to 17) who have great hearts and shared things with me that i would never expect to hear from someone twice their age. it was a humbling experience and i was glad to be a part of it once again.
but…that’s for another post.
for quite some time, i’ve been a relatively outspoken proponent of public education. quite frankly, i wish it was the only system of education we had (for many and varied reasons). my feelings have only grown stronger over the last month as lucy—our oldest child—has started pre-K.
one of the things i’m keenly aware of—relative to my advocacy of public schools—is that the public education system isn’t healthy. for various reasons, i certainly think it’s healthier than private or home school alternatives, but nevertheless, it’s a long way from where it should and could be.
editorial note: we’re about a week shy of one year since the voices for justice west memphis 3 rally with eddie vedder and a host of other supporters. just a month later, i posted the following account of a candelight vigil i attended to coincide with oral arguments on behalf of damien. and today—if reports are to be trusted (which is always iffy)—we’ll see damien, jason & jessie walk free. after 18 years behind bars for a crime they didn’t commit, they’ll get to experience freedom once more. so, i thought i’d offer this up again now that our times of prayer and reflection are becoming realities. i’ll offer an update as the developments continue.