Hovey St. suspect captured; it's the culture, stupid

Dateline: Thu 17 Jan 2008

The Star is reporting that police are questioning a man in the murders of two women and their babies on Hovey Street on the Indianapolis Eastside.

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080117/LOCAL/80117042/-1

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The suspect was picked up in an apartment at 21st and Boulevard; another suspect is also being sought, so cops are still on the scene. The Star also reports that suspect No. 1 was wanted on an outstanding warrant for robbery.

That's all well and good, and everyone wants the killers off the street asap. But many of us have shuddered over the Star's earlier coverage today, where police seem to be going out of their way to refuse to make a connection between the Hovey Street killings and drugs or criminal activity. What, it's going to hurt the city's image or something?

This, despite the fact that the Star reports in today's story by Vic Ryckaert: there was a pound of pot in the house, plus a scale, plus weapons; the house had been broken into earlier and $5 k of sweatsuits (!) stolen, along with an expensive TV; thugs had come to the same house last year apparently seeking the owner of the home, one James Walker, who, it turns out, was an acquaintance of a man killed in a drive-by on the Northside; the two women in the house, murdered with their babies in their arms, each had a child by men now in prison for drugs. One of those, Demarcus "CoCo" Garner, was indicted in August as being part of the Haughville cocaine syndicate.

What is up with this? As a friend noted, it's as if Police Chief Michael Spears is saying, about all this activity, "It's just something the Negroes do. We don't understand it." His refusal to connect the dots is almost insulting. But maybe it's not his job.

All indicators point to major ghetto culture activity here -- drugs, out of wedlock babies, baby daddies in prison, gangs, violent crime, murder. Why is everyone so tolerant of the dysfunctional elephant in our midst? Or have we become so "sensitive" that we have to accept that two women and two babies can be gunned down without any logical explanation?

This is anecdotal, but bears telling at this point: last fall, at a Northside/Meridian-Kessler party, a trauma surgeon at Wishard Hospital talked about the level of violence he now sees in the ER -- unprecedented, in his experience. He noted that people are no longer victims of stabbings or shootings but of rage-filled attacks on one another, the result of a new and ferocious level of gang activity in Indy. And this doc could rattle off the names of gangs just like calling out the cereals on the shelf at Wild Oats.

Whatever is happening cries for investigative reporting: the anger/terror/fear/revenge that is being played out on city streets is a serious indicator that we are in the midst of a crime crisis.

Over-reaction? Or is this part of some larger trend? In my research -- I was seeking info about earlier Indy-area murders, including the throat-cuttings of 3 young people in Carmel in 1994 -- I ran across a book "De-constructing Tyrone: A new Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop" by Natalie Hopkinson and Natalie Moore, both North Central High School grads who went on to post-college careers as writers/journalists.

There's a fascinating chapter about the anger/alienation experienced by Kofi Ajabu, one of three men convicted of the murders of Carmel siblings Nick and Lisa Allemenos and their friend Chris James.

A major point is that young Ajabu, a college student with a brilliant mind, had been infected by gangbanga culture and the fury of his own father, Mmoja Ajabu (who, according to the book, sent his son off to college with a piece).

Maybe that is the book Indy needs to be reading in concert. At any rate, it seems that shoving these concerns under the rug, out of print, out of mind, is not stopping the madness.

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