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Monday, October 30, 2006

Gang Violence hits home

My 23 year old son was pretty badly beaten last night in San Diego as he was eating a burrito at an outdoor taco stand. A witness told police that the assailants were members of a local gang. The five alleged gang members were insulted when a drunk young man at the same taco stand, unknown by my son and his two friends, threw salsa out at cars passing by. My son has no memory of the beating, but was told at the hospital that he'd been hit hard in his face, fallen to the ground, and then stomped repeatedly on his head. He'd been walking around the parking lot in a bloody daze and was unable to answer simple questions. He only remembers when he came to in a hospital ER, restrained to a gurney to keep his head immobile, with police around the bed and no doctors available. Eventually he was let go to be driven home by his friends (also beaten) with no instructions about how to deal with the aftermath of a concussion. Fortunately or unfortunately he has had several of those before from snowboarding, wakeboarding, etc. and had his girlfriend keep him awake and observe him. The paramedics had cleaned the blood from his scalp and face.

I'm sure the assailants had no thoughts about this young man's inner beauty as they beat on his head; the way he makes so many of us laugh; his tireless sense of play, his abiding friendships, ready smile and affection, his poignant, early steps into post-college adulthood; least of all that he might have parents and a twin brother who would lay sleepless with concern in their respective homes miles away after hearing about it.

I'm sure they just saw a young white guy who may have been connected to the "salsa-insult" on their car. He remembers their car pulling into the taco stand lot and was naive enough to think he had nothing to worry about since he had nothing to do with the guy on the other side of the lot who had tossed salsa.

I remember that sense of empathy-free righteousness that allowed me, as a high school student already filled with rage, to hit others who I thought were the "bad guys" in one situation or another. I see that same inappropriate, unevolved mentality in the foreign policies of our White House leaders. That's all so abstract compared to the image I can't get out of my head in the wee morning hours..... of a heavy shoe coming down on my son's unconscious, precious head.

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