Recently, the school district I work in experienced a social media crisis when kids posted pictures of themselves with the message — ‘Don’t come to school’ as we prepare to return to the classroom after the winer break. The problem is the students are holding what appear to be weapons — automatic rifles and revolvers — all of which have since been determined to be fakes and not real weaponry. The community is up in arms, and on social media parents are threatening to keep their kids home for the day rather than face the risk.
The local police department has issued a statement saying the students have been spoken to and the issue is resolved and there is no immediate threat to tomorrow’s school day. So I guess I will go to work as a teacher in my classroom, but I know I’ll look around and see a lot of empty desks.
There are a couple of directions I want to go with this commentary. The most important being the realization of how dangerous a precedent these students created with their ‘prank’ behavior. I don’t they realize the repercussions. I don’t think though, from reading the thread of reactions on social media that our society is ready to recognize the consequences of such a harmful act.
Guns scare people today, because their volatility, their immediate impact, their prevalence in schools is defined rather than speculated. The problem I have with these students making a joke of a serious issue is not as much themselves as it is the onlookers. Their joke could be someone else’s literal motivation to carry out a heinous act because it has been revealed and attention has been drawn to the idea.
I think the greatest fear of sensationalism is the action alone. Parents are reeling from this news, decidedly keeping their kids home. Some will eventually transfer schools. The community is frightened by the reality of this incident and this needs to become a teaching moment for our kids.
We cannot simply let it ride as a harmless prank. We must set a tone, and students need to know the seriousness of such an action. The students involved need to be charged with a terrorist act because they created an idea, a dangerous one, that might leave someone else intrigued enough to carry out what they thought was a joke.
We live in a suicidal society as it is. We cannot continue to give our students reasons to make poor and life-changing decisions that will impact their world for the rest of their lives.Our kids are being groomed within a throwaway society that is so impactful they have no idea the consequence that lays before them.
Gun-toting activists need to step it up and recognize this is dangerous behavior and not an over-reaction. Keep in mind, the gun could be your own.
In Minneapolis, a white, blonde woman, of means was gunned down by a Somali police officer. Let me say this a different way. A woman in a dark alley was recently shot dead by a cop on patrol in south Minneapolis. Or I could say, after making a call to 911, a woman in certain distress approached a responding squad car, and the officer in the passenger side, fired his weapon across his partner through a window, and she died in the alley of a fatal wound. How do the three descriptions differ from each other? One might wonder which context of this absolute tragedy will matter in the outcome.
Here is the truth. We live in a society that places priority on means. In other words, money does play a role in how situations of tragedy are handled. However, there are many other variables in play here. This isn’t about a white police officer gunning down a person of color, without explanation or cause. This is actually about an officer of color ending the life of an attractive blonde woman. Take the blonde out of the story, this is the story of a woman being gunned down for no apparent reason. Either way it is described, there will be no pleasant outcome. We don’t know there wasn’t a reason because both officers in the patrol had their body cams turned off, another variable.
We don’t know the motivation for the gunshot because it was dark, the woman approached the vehicle, there was no dash cam, and apparently no witnesses beyond the officers and the woman. We are as a society asked to appreciate the reasoning and risk, and thereby respect the duress of our police departments when responding to any call, in any circumstance. I was gently reminded of this weeks ago, when writing about the Philando Castile verdict, how an officer is clearly always walking into danger, whether it be a routine traffic stop, or an already identified point of threat. So this commentary is not about our police force and their right or wrong doings.
This commentary is about how our society is going to handle this current crisis. How is social media going to react? What will be the chain of priority when handling this investigation? Does it take more precedent than the string of killings that have occurred on our streets in the last month, not including the twin cities but across the country? How do we decide that one case matters more than countless others? God help us, that we live in a world that the color of our skin creates a definition of what we determine to be important.
The clear fact is that a woman died at the hands of our police force. The truth is no one knows why except for the officers involved and in circumstances of such terrible outcome, in the moment of haste, worry, concern, personal threat, even their hearts were certainly adrenaline driven in the moment. On the surface we can be quite sure there was a lot of tension and panic involved. In the end though, a woman is dead, and another police force is under scrutiny, and the twin cities has become national news.
So, how do we go forward? Some people might pray to help themselves find calm and balance and heal. Some are pragmatic and will return to their lives and this will be a sad afterthought. Some will move out of the neighborhood, change the locks, buy home security systems, take self defense. Some will remain quietly nervous for the rest of their lives.
We as a society need somehow to respond to one another, and recognize this isn’t a race issue, not a gender based issue, not an easily explainable issue. What is true is that a young woman has lost her life and the treasures of her future and her fiance, family and friends are forever altered. We can try to move forward. We can try to find understanding, empathy, and peace throughout the confusion. There is no easy solution, there is only reality, and the acknowledgment of horrific human error.