It was dark yesterday. Sure, the sun was out, but the story I was helping to cover made everything seem a little less bright.
I wish the people who read my blog could have been with me. Maybe not everyone, just the people who never get to see the part of my (our) world that's almost as bad as anything in the war zones in other countries.
All I did was travel from the station to 92nd and Firth in South Los Angeles. At some point I think I crossed a border. There weren't any signs and it wasn't marked, but I knew it when I crossed it.
A 4 year old girl playing in her yard was shot yesterday. She's reported to be in stable condition and police are searching for the gunman.
I don't know if he was shooting at someone specific or just doing a random drive-by. It's just such a waste.
(By the way, can you see the feminine influence in the tagging on this wall?)
I wouldn't say we were afraid (lots of cops around), but I wasn't eager to hang out any longer than needed.
There were a couple of guys standing near my door when I parked my van. One of them was a lot bigger than me. He didn't have a shirt on. His pants and shoes were dirty. He just stood on the sidewalk and looked at me hard. This was the kind of guy that you don't want to bump into if you're by yourself and it's dark.
He never said a word and I'm not going to speculate on what he might have been thinking. I got out of the van, walked around and fired up my generator. We were possibly going to go "live" with the story right away. I focused on the job at hand and ignored the guys.
That was just the first thirty seconds.
The station had already taken the helicopter at the top of the show. No liveshot until later and I wasn't completely disappointed.
It was good because I liked being able to just keep an eye on things. I've been in neighborhoods like this to cover similar stories. We get crowds of people who are angry and willing to vent their anger on the media. I've also been in neighborhoods where things start out pretty calm and public opinion suddenly changed.
Maybe since the victim was a little girl, the residents weren't concerned so much with our presence in their neighborhood. I don't know for sure, I didn't see anybody I could ask.
The reporter and the photographer working with him got what they needed to put the story together for later. I tagged along. The cops weren't all going to hang around until we were done.
Eventually the police took down the crime scene tape and I got a chance to take a close look at the damage to two cars that got hit by bullets. I don't want to think about the damage done to the 4 year old girl.
Often I hear people try to explain why things are the way they are in poor communities. I hear about the disparity in educational opportunities and the discrimination that prevents people from escaping their environment.
People who read me already know how I feel. The environment may resemble a third world country, but the availability of resources is considerably greater in South Los Angeles than in other parts of the world.
People are often just not choosing to make use of what's available.
I'm not so arrogant to believe that it all comes down to making different (better) choices. Escaping generational patterns of poverty is a huge struggle. That struggle isn't going to be made any easier by the reality that racism exists in the world.
People may want better lives (I believe they do), but wanting better isn't in itself a choice. That's just desire.
The choice is in not picking up a gun with the intent of doing anyone harm.
The choice is to educate yourself. The choice is to spend at least as much time sharpening your job skills as you spend entertaining yourself. The choice is in not tolerating the violence that exists in your community. The choice is in taking responsibility for the life you have.
Some people have had it easier, but there are people who have overcome much worse.
Don't look at me. Take a hard look at yourself.