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Wednesday April 16th 2014

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IN Cover Story Puts a Face on Area Homicides

PAIN cover
Murders, shootings, assaults, rapes…they too quickly become just numbers, one-day headlines lost in the flood of news of Justin Beiber’s tattoos, Lady Gaga’s outfits and Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy

Firing a county administrator, supposedly disheveled mayor, political grandstanding and vendettas, and photogenic press conferences consume the mayor, city council and county commissioners.

On the Friday before Christmas, I visited with parents who had lost children to street violence over the past two bloody years. Commissioner Lumon May. who had already met with the mothers, had set up the meeting.

“Lately I’ve helped raise more money for funerals than fees for kids wanting to play youth football or basketball,” May told the mothers.

My goal was to put faces on these murders. The mothers’ words, tears and pain haunted me throughout the holidays. Some of it bubbled up in my Dec. 27 Outtakes, but I held myself in check for our Jan. 3 cover story – “A Mother’s Pain.”

These homicides and other violent crimes are a community issue, not just a problem for Sheriff David Morgan or Police Chief Chip Simmons. With the exception of May and Councilman Gerald Wingate, the mayor, city council and county commission are clueless. It’s time they spend time on the streets, and in the housing projects and poorer neighborhoods—they will be amazed at what they see and hear.

These crimes threaten to undermine all their economic development efforts. They don’t see it yet, but soon they will be forced to do so.

Here is the entire issue: