Sunday, June 11, 2006

DO WE COLOR OUR RESPONSE TO CRIME?

It's been a little over a week since seven family members were murdered in a home on the Near Eastside, apparently victims of a robbery. The media reported they were killed execution style, though I am not exactly sure what that means. It doesn't seem to square to me that people being robbed would be killed execution style, particularly when three of them were children. I just assume something else is at play in this tragic episode, something we will later learn.

But the thing that is interesting me about the incident, the news event that surrounded it, and the community response that followed it, is that the victims were a Latino family living in an urban neighborhood. I am wondering what Central Indiana neighbors who are not Latino are thinking about the murders of a Latino family in an inner-city area? Does that fact that the victims were Latino color responses and the conclusions that are drawn? Does the fact that the episode took place in a poor, older neighborhood of the city factor into the way suburban neighbors or folks living at the far reaches of the region react to or think about the event?

Does the current vitriol some Hoosers are spewing against undocumented immigrants play into personal interpretations of and responses to the most heinous murder in Central Indiana in nearly a generation? Would people care or react more strongly if the family were white, or black, or middle class, or living in Carmel or Greenwood? And what if the perpetrator were Latino? Or white?

I don't know the answers to these questions. I just think about them. I hope were aren't letting race and/or class factor into our care about what happens in terms of crime and safety in Central Indiana. From a study I helped conduct a few years ago regarding the perceptions and realities of crime in Central Indiana, I do know that race, class, and geography within the region are factors in the manner in which crimes are reported in the media.

My heart goes out to all the family members of these neighbors who were slain. I want for them the fairest and best possible responses in follow-up from the community's resources.

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