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Memorial for Homicide victim, male, 25.
Today we had prayer vigils for six homicide victims that were shot and killed during the last week. This was the same number of homicides committed by one individual who died himself at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek. But for one exception these men, from age 19–57 were barely mentioned in the media. The exception was Sikh store operator who was killed in an armed robbery of his store. Because he was a member of the temple where six members were killed in Oak Creek he got a lot of press.
The other five were of African American males, whose death, outside a group of family and friends, was. I sometimes feel like an abolitionist in the days of slavery crying out how these persons are also human and need to be recognized and respected so we stop this senseless killing.
I remember that when Tommy Thompson was near the end of his long terms as governor and after building a large prison system in Wisconsin he had a study done of the causes of crime. The people in the study said: Prisoners and Prisons “are bound to grow as long as the root cause of crime—poverty, lack of education and lack of family support—go unaddressed.” Governor Thompson, who now is running for US Senate said: Eliminate welfare, put the poor mother to work, build more prisons, end parole, and hand out more severe sentencing. That is what the people wanted to hear at the time and so it was done.
The headlines of today’s newspaper reads: “Prison pass UW in current budget”. It says: “In 2011–13 Gov. Scott Walker and GOP lawmakers allotted just 2.1 billion to the state’s public universities and $2.25 billion to the Department of Corrections. It’s a gap that is unlikely to close any time soon.”
Both Republican Governors know what the roots of crime are, “poverty, lack of education and lack of family support” yet address only the symptoms. Thus crime increases and so thus the budget for prisons.
At most of the homicide sites we visit there is a makeshift memorial. Common items are teddy bears, balloons, empty beer and liquor bottles and notes. The first memorial today, pictured above, was like this but, as one of our group noticed, featured a polar bear, as well as teddy bears. That was unique as are all the happy memories stories told by family and friends. A mother today at one of the vigils was just full of humorous stories about her son which motivated the victim’s brother and sister to tell a humorous store about the young man.
The six murders in the Sheik temple and the six on the streets of Milwaukee last week are preventable if we have the courage to limit gun availability, give all children an opportunity for a good education without joining the military and help people move out of poverty by giving them the welfare the giant corporations now receive. But is this what people want to hear?