Sunday, November 27, 2011

David Clarke's Tragic Life in the so-called Promised Land

David Clarke spent four years behind bars on Riker’s Island, an accused killer desperate to prove his innocence and get on with his life. The National Honor Society student, a sure bet for a college scholarship before his 2007 arrest, sent eloquent letters to seemingly endless recipients in hopes of being freed. “I feel like I am trapped in a system that was designed to try to keep me in jail rather than find justice,” he wrote the Daily News one year ago. “I am not looking for sympathy from anyone, nor am I looking for any favors, all I want is a fair trial to prove that I am innocent.”

In March, the clean-cut, soft-spoken 23-year-old finally left his cell for a Bronx courtroom. A jury of his peers needed just 20 minutes to acquit Clarke after a monthlong trial. “They didn’t even wait for the free lunch,” said his lawyer, Steven Kaiser. “I think they genuinely felt sorry for the kid. They didn’t want him to spend a minute more in jail.” Clarke returned home with the words “not guilty” ringing in his ears — a sound that gave way to gunshots just eight months into his long-denied freedom. The ex-murder suspect became a murder victim, shot to death in front of his Bronx home on Monday — killed in a penny-ante neighborhood beef unrelated to the murder case, his devastated family said.

“Four years in Rikers, to come here and die in eight months? Why would God do that? It’s not even fair,” cried his mother, Anne Smith. “He was 23 years old. How do you die at 23?” Her son’s friends told Smith that David won a fistfight and the loser vowed to return with a gun for revenge. “David thought he was joking. The guy is 16 or 17!” she said. “He came back five minutes later. Nobody knows why.” Cops found the mortally wounded Clarke bleeding from the neck on sidewalk outside his Sedgwick Ave. building in the Bronx just after 4 p.m.

The killer remains at large.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The City Game--We have Raised a Generation of Cowards

A teen basketball player was killed, and two other teens were injured when a gunman opened fire in Canarsie just after 3 p.m. Friday, blocks away from their high school. Shaquille Jones, 17, died from a shot to the head; a 16-year-old and 19-year-old were wounded and taken to Brookdale Hospital where they are listed in stable condition. Shaquille Jones was a junior basketball player for the Shouth Shore High School Vikings.

We have raised a generation of cowards, whose minds can no longer process conflict resolution, respectful debate or peaceful dialogue. All these young kids, both male and female, know how to do is lash out and hurt and kill at the slightest slight or the most trivial disagreement. These Soul-less creatures are a new hybrid of human being/robotic machine whose capacity for empathy and compassion grows weaker and smaller by the nano-second.

Many observers feel that these kids are just mimicking what they see going on in the world they were born into. With global wars, suicide bombings, "Virginia Tech" style mass-murder and the alarming rise of family killings, many point to a nation gone mad. They say that a feeling of tragic hopelessness permeates our society and has seeped into the open pores of these young children.

There was a time when a human life was one of the most sacred and precious things on this Earth. Sadly, if you look around at all the carnage and destruction going on around the world, you come to realize and understand this is no longer true.

Police don't yet know what motivated the shooting of Shaquille Jones, which occurred just after school was let out. According to the news reports, there was an incident at a nearby bus stop—in which someone fired shots—minutes before the three teens were shot.

My first story against youth violence published in 1994, 'The City Game' was about a gifted All-American high school basketball player, Sam Johnson, who dies tragically on the streets of Jersey City. Sadly, young 17 year old high school basketball star, Shaquille Jones, was gunned down on the killing fields of Brooklyn last Friday.