Thursday, June 21, 2007


I was quite saddened this morning when I read a story that a man was beaten to death at a Juneteeth celebration in Austin, TX. Apparently, a car hit and injured, although not critically, a young girl at the celebration. The driver got out of the car to check on her and was attacked. The passenger of the car got out to help the driver and was, in turn, beaten to death. The driver was able to get away.

I understand the anger that can ensue after witnessing a child being injured. I also know that there is no excuse in beating a man to death. What really tore my heart out was that this happened at a Juneteenth celebration.

People were there celebrating the fact that news of emancipation finally reached the ears of the people. Six months after the Emancipation Proclamation people were finally able to be “free”. For a celebration of freedom turn violent and destructive is a travesty. I realize that of the many thousands of people who were at the celebration, only twenty or so participated in this heinous act. That is twenty to many. The acts of these few people mar the celebration of thousands. Instead of being about celebration, the day becomes a day of mourning and regret.

A crowd of twenty falling upon and killing one man sounds like a lynching to me. That is a horrible thing to happen any day but was even more despicable on that day. It makes me wonder how many people celebrate because of what the day means and how many celebrate because it is an excuse to get out in the streets and act a fool. It makes me wonder if the fact that the man beaten to death had the last name Morales had anything to do with the willingness of the crowd to be so harsh. It made me wonder what that young girl will think when she hears about the incident years later; will she blame herself, will she care? It made me wonder so many things that I had no business wondering and shouldn’t have had to think about.

Why are people so full of anger, hatred, and disregard? I’m not stupid, or ill-informed, I could cite many many answers to the very question I just posed. However, I don’t want to. I don’t want to have to think of what in our society contributes to this kind of tragedy. I just want things to get better. I do my best to ensure that they do. I try to talk to people and make sure people understand. I am sure I could do so much more. Unfortunately, no matter how much I do, no matter if I laid down my life for the good of humanity, I don’t think things would change all that much. I don’t believe there are enough people out there who care about humanity and the strains that exist within our society that any true progress will be made anytime soon. I don’t want to feel this way. I want to have hope. Some days I even can se a light at the end of the tunnel. Then something like this happens, and it all goes dark.

1. Well my name is Young MC and I’m cold rockin’ the house/ I came up into the place and now I’m turning it out.

2. My baby’s always dancing/ And it wouldn't be a bad thing/ But I don't get no loving/ And that's no lie.

3. The creator of what’s now cliché/ Had some funny words to say/ all you little things are incomplete/ Why did he speak of us that way.

4. Just before our love got lost you said/ I am as constant as the northern star and I said/ Constantly in the darkness/ Where’s that at/ If you need me I'll be in the bar.

5. Love/ Exciting and new/ Come aboard/ We’re expecting you. The Love Boat Theme Song. Identified by Brooke.


Brooke said...

Dude, is #5 the theme song from Love Boat? Oh Friend...

Depressing story. One would hope that people would be more aware of what they were celebrating on such a day. But I'm not at all surprised.

Danielle said...

This is awful, shameful and despicable. I have the same questions that you pose and will continue to strive for the root of violence and pull it from the hearts of men.

Monica said...

dang, i was gonna rep the love boat... stupid Friend beat me.

anyway, ordinarily I would say i'm not surprised but like, i strangely AM surprised. i mean we all know what humans are capable of (why i prefer dogs) but whenever you hear of stuff that is totally believable based on that knowledge it still surprises me. maybe i am still giving people too much credit even though i say out loud that i don't.

Mom said...

I googled the incident and found some news articles from Austin, TX that aim to correct the impressions that initially made it to the national news. According to these articles, the incident involved far fewer people and was not actually "at" or connected to the Juneteenth celebration which was apparently wrapping up nearby. (Although the one article that says it was "not a brutal beating" sounds a bit ridiculous to me. How can beating a person to death not be brutal?
Anyway, here are the links:
Groups Ask For Healing After Beating Death
Man Killed Near Austin Juneteenth Festival
City, Police Respond To East Austin Beating Death
Crowd Beats Man To Death After Car Hits Child
This doesn't make what happened less tragic. But it changes the perception and understanding in some ways. I hope for healing and reconciliation and my sympathies go out to those directly affected.

Katrina said...

Sad story. I'd chalk at least part of it up to mob mentality. And two people can be considered a mob if they're acting in the correct way for the definition.

My post today was also a sad one. We shouldn't be writing such sad posts on the 1st day of summer. :(

notfearingchange said...

horrible....absolutely horrible.

Johnny Yen said...

I had the same thought when I saw what celebration it was and the name of the victim. Racism is horrible, no matter who is perpetrating it.

Dynamo360 said...

It's hard for me to remain hopeful when I hear stories like this one, this kind of thing is never ever pretty and it deeply seddans me.

The thing I do have faith in though is that I don't actually believe such an act is in people's inherent nature. Though I think we experiment and push boundaries "senseless" violence is spurred by greater social issues and problems within society.

But I almost always am in the nurture camp when up against nature... That is one of the only things I manage to have faith in.

Mood Indigo said...

This is awful. I was just in Nairobi and my guide book said if you were robbed in public you shouldn't yell "thief" or draw attention to it or the crowd around you would be likely to beat them to death. It sounded so horrifying, and I returned home to the same reality. Humanity thinking it's at its best by defending the defenseless - pretty horrifying.

Natalie said...

Brooke- I was reminded of the man that got beat after killing a guy on the stoop of a South Side apartment last year. I guess that is the thing to do in these situations. Anger is one thing but violence doesn’t fix the situation.

Danielle- Wouldn’t it be nice if people could be rational for once?

Monica- I feel you. I wasn’t surprised but I was. People are so confusing.

Mom- After reading those I am mad all over, see next post.

Katrina- I think mob mentality is certainly to blame. Except when I read the reports that say as few as 2 people may have been involved. I have to check out your sad post. I hope all is ok.

Not fearing- Exactly

Johnny Yen- I agree with you so completely. I probably wouldn’t have thought that way until I lived in this city. The black/brown hatred in Chicago is the worst I have ever seen.

Dynamo- I tend to agree that nurture has a big part but I’ll have to go with nature when it comes to “being part of the crowd” and participating in things we may not typically participate in when everyone else is doing it.

CS said...

It is a very sad story - there's some sort of violent mob behavior and a diffusion of responsibility that can be ignited and all sense of goodness gets temporarily lost. I cling stubbornly to the belief that this sort of thing is an aberration.