WASHINGTON, June 27, 2014 – “There is a moral and social breakdown in the fabric of our society which is clearly evident when a woman gets pummeled in broad daylight in front of her child while a dozen people pull out their phones to record the incident instead of calling for help,” Salem (New Jersey) Chief of Police John J. Pelura III told NJ.com.
“There is so little regard for human life — by the actor and the bystanders.”
No truer words have been spoken.
The case of Jeremy Meeks, who gained infamy for his “handsome mugshot” was arrested under California Penal Code 186.22 PC, part of the “California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act” – more commonly referred to as the California “STEP Act” or as California’s street gang enhancement law.
More colloquially known as the “anti-street terrorism” law.
But so called “street terrorism” is not just about gang activity. It seems to be an insidious erosion of our basic rights to live unmolested.
In the case that office Pelura is referring to, one has to marvel that one woman would attack another, supposedly over workplace gossip, with such brutality. The fact that she might have killed her victim is obvious, is frightening.
The brutal beating of Catherine Ferreira a 27 year-old Salem resident left her lying on the grass with injuries including limited function of her left eye, bruises, contusions, cuts and a broken nose. Police said Harris will face charges of aggravated assault and making terroristic threats.
Even though there was a crowd of young men watching as the physically imposing Latia Harris, dressed in her McDonald’s uniform, beat the much smaller women, their response was catcalls and videotaping. Not calls to stop. Not calls to the police.
The young men could have stepped between the woman and blocked Harris’ blows. They are a culpable in the beating as the woman who should be eventually charged with attempted murder.
A lot of things, other than watching, could have been done.
Unfortunately the only person who tried to intervene was Ferreira’s young son, whom Harris also threatened to “kick in the face.”
Harris’ arrest warrant states that she while beating Ferreira she was threatening to “shoot the victim” and that she “attempted to caused significant bodily injury under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
Harris is not the only person(s) to have taken a step off of the pier of common decency.
In April of 2014, a 14 year-old boy and 13 year-old girl repeatedly attacked another child with autism at the Southwest Early College Campus school, Kansas City. The 15 year old girl, complaining about vaginal pain, told her parents she had been repeatedly raped while at school.
The girl said an eighth-grader had repeatedly raped her while a female eighth-grader acted as a lookout. The boy would punch her in the chest and arms if she refused.
Last month Marcus Velasquez, now 15, was sentenced by a county judge to 14-28 years in a state prison, a sentence the judge calls symbolic as the defendant was charged as a child. His crime is that in December, 2012, Western Pennsylvania 22 year-old Kayla Peterson was shot and killed when she refused Valasquez and his friends a cigarette, telling them to “get a job.”
Peterson’s fiancé, father of their two-year old child and who held the young mother as she died, told police that they knew the boys and that he has “played basketball” with the father of one child.
A witness to the crime, Brock Edwards, worked at the story where Bailey bought the cigarettes says My friend came in and got cigarettes, and three young kids followed him. They kept following him and asking him for a cigarette… The next thing you know, they just pull out a gun and shoot for no reason.
It was just over a cigarette…Now, my friend lost his girlfriend — an amazing, amazing girl, and she was such a good mother, too — and now her child has to grow up without her mother being there.”
From an adult who uses fists, to children who brandish guns to kill, Officer Pelura is right – there is a moral and social breakdown in the fabric of our society.
And we need to ask the hard question of why?