Shooting during Grady-Carver game: What can we do about teens and guns?

We live in a country where teenagers settle disputes with guns.

We saw that with tragic consequences Friday night when gunfire erupted in the midst of a Grady High-Carver High football game in a popular intown neighborhood near Piedmont Park.

Whitehead-Caitlin-Fal14-ILLU410-Burns-A1-AJC_Marching Into the SThe New York Times had a sobering piece this week on the rise in murders in America’s cities, seeking explanations why. Here’s an excerpt of the piece that’s relevant to what happened here:

“… many top police officials say they are seeing a growing willingness among disenchanted young men in poor neighborhoods to use violence to settle ordinary disputes. ‘Maintaining one’s status and credibility and honor, if you will, within that peer community is literally a matter of life and death,’ Milwaukee’s police chief, Edward A. Flynn, said.

Arguments that used to end in bloody noses and busted lips now end in gunfire and intensive care units.

As the AJC reports:

Nearly two dozens shots were fired during a Friday night altercation near Grady High School, leaving a teenager in critical condition and a passerby wounded, Atlanta police said.

According to a police incident report released Saturday, the 18-year-old victim was leaving Grady’s football game with Carver High School when he and other members of his group were confronted by “four or five males” near Monroe Drive and 8th Street. The suspects reportedly “asked if they had a problem with them.”

“According to the victim, he thought there was going to be a fist fight, but someone from the other group pulled guns and started shooting at him,” the incident report said. “He said that he ran and didn’t realize that he had been shot until he entered a nearby restaurant.”

The victim, a student at Crim Open Campus High School, was shot in the back and taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in critical condition, police said.

A 52-year-old woman was driving through the intersection during the shooting and stray bullets hit her in the ankle and grazed her head, police said. She was taken to Atlanta Medical Center in stable condition.

As someone who wrote about guns and kids for 12 years for the AJC editorial board, I could say a lot about this incident.

But Atlanta school board member Matt Westmoreland said it better in a Facebook posting that I asked if I could share on the blog.

A Princeton grad and a Teach for America alum, Westmoreland attended Grady High School, taught at Carver and grew up in Atlanta. He knows these kids.

By Matt Westmoreland

It is a horrifying thing to be at a high school football game with hundreds of families on a Friday night and hear 21 gunshots ring out right next to the stadium.

You get frightened when you watch the crowd flee for safety— dropping to the ground, hiding behind concrete walls, or sprinting across the field to get away.

You get angry when you see a panicked look on the faces of middle schoolers or tears rolling down the cheeks of your former students.

You get shaken when you realize this is what many will think about when they hear Grady— or Carver— or Atlanta Public Schools.

You get sad when the conversation turns racial: Whether it’s a Black player from Carver saying he wished he “went to a white school where I could just play games,” or a community member describing a white neighbor who is becoming “more anti-young black male as time goes on.”

As a Grady alum and former Carver teacher, last night hit especially close to home— because both of those school communities hold a special place in my heart. And that’s why, in the midst of all that was happening, I was so heartened to see how folks came together to support one another. It made me proud to be a Grady Knight, a Carver Panther, and a member of the APS family.

It is hard as a teacher, and I imagine even more so as a parent, to know there is evil in the world and that, no matter how hard we work, sometimes our efforts to keep kids safe and protected seem to fail.

In situations like this, it’s common to look for someone or something to blame, and to get filled with anger and rage. But blame and anger don’t end violence, free our streets of crime, change the hearts and minds of our older kids, or help mold the hearts and minds of our younger ones.

For me, events like last night are a vivid reminder that we all have more work to do—that an even greater effort is required of us. The trigger on that gun was pulled by someone who lives in our community, who likely grew up in our schools. But that means we have the individual and collective ability to effect positive change in both of those institutions for the future.

The Grady and Carver communities are full of folks who work hard, love deeply, and care about those around them. That is a strong foundation on which to build. And it is proof in my mind that, through hard work, love and kindness, our world gets better.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

134 comments
BCW1
BCW1

In terms of gun control, you think these minors got these guns legally? Again, the problem is not the guns but the shape of our society and nobody will address issues such as the crumbling of the family unit!!!!!

Ralph-25
Ralph-25

'Guns Everywhere is clearly not making anyone safer.  Time to reinstitute sensible laws.  Anybody in the State Legislature with any leadership talent and common sense?

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@Ralph-43

"Sensible laws"?  Let's see:

Against the law to shoot someone.

Against the law to carry weapon on school grounds.

Against the law for someone under the age of 21 to purchase a handgun.

Against the law for someone under the age of 21 to carry a concealed weapon.

Against the law to discharge weapon inside the city limits..

Against the law to brandish a weapon in a threatening manner.


There are probably a couple more laws that I haven't thought about.  That's the problem with criminals, they don't obey the law.


BravesFan79
BravesFan79

As recent news proves...if 5 white teens knock on your door asking to borrow a car-jack.. Their car likely broke Down. Of 5 black teens ask the same thing.. Your likely about to get jacked! Call me a racist... But just don't call me dead. Better to be a alive "realist" than a dead liberal!

MoFaux
MoFaux

The solution is to make all guns and bullets illegal. Gun enthusiasts can apply for professional hunting jobs or rent guns at ranges.

Benjiwenji
Benjiwenji

@MoFaux Although that would be ideal, the enforcing aspect will be difficult if not impossible.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@MoFaux

"The solution is to make all guns and bullets illegal."


Congratulations.  You just created a black market for gun running on a national scale.


MoFaux
MoFaux

You mean like heroin?

MoFaux
MoFaux

The object is to severely decrease the gun population. If perfection was a prerequisite for passing laws, we would have no laws.

straker
straker

gactzn1


Blacks make up about 13% of the population and are responsible for nearly half of all homicides committed in America each year.


You forgot to add this when discussing White crime in America.

gactzn2
gactzn2

@straker They still make up the other 50%- Crime is Crime- please consider the bigger picture- ajc is a metropolitan based newspaper which reports on the crime in the "metro" area- furthermore- poverty is often at the root of the issue- for the 50% of offenders who are white- what motivates their crime efforts?  Poverty perhaps? Drugs? Mental Illness?  Oh- the same issues impacting blacks who commit crime.

gactzn2
gactzn2

@straker Let's not conveniently forget that Blacks- 13% of the population- are descendants of people who were enslaved in AMERICA for over 400 years (no economic power-base or OLD MONEY with which to build from), and were Jim Crowed literally and legislatively out of their rights, and resources.  When we see the fruits of entrenched and covert efforts to mangle a community (because it truly is bigger and much deeper than what you see)- even psychologically speaking- we should not recoil and behave as if it never originated from some source. If so broad minded- did you consider that aspects of that history are still reverberating now? While some things have changed- a great deal remains the same- ideas (such as inferiority) are hard to kill in bigoted persons who do not realize that America is a totally different place for Blacks than for Whites- I still don't condone crime committed by anyone- but I try to understand why.


If you remove economic opportunity, you create conditions for crime- there you go.

popcornular
popcornular

@gactzn2 @straker

And they evolved over millions of years in an environment where physical prowess and aggression likely meant survival. Throw the result into today's technological age and the results are not really surprising, if you have one bit of common sense that is. 

Benjiwenji
Benjiwenji

@Starik @gactzn2 @straker Yeah well, for the same crime, blacks are also more likely to be given longer sentence than whites.  Which culture component is that?

Starik
Starik

@gactzn2 @straker There are some differences. You rarely see trailer-park boys out in the country shooting each other, and are rarely in gangs. Whites in the Metro are wealthier; poor whites were pushed out to the far distant suburbs years ago, so here Metro crime is mostly black crime. Armed Robbery is almost always a black crime here, and when somebody is killed in one it's often somebody white or an immigrant. There's a strong cultural component.

1Fred
1Fred

@gactzn2 @straker Your argument loses substance when you through out a figure like 400 years.  Slavery in America did not exist for 400 years.

JustSomeThoughts
JustSomeThoughts

How can a nation that uses violence as a means of solving it's problems with other countries expect its own residents to not do the same. There is a direct correlation between being the #1 arms dealer and having the highest rates of.violence.

AtlantaAvenger
AtlantaAvenger

What does more 'anti-young black male' mean exactly? Watch Beyond Scared Straight-there's a few episodes from Georgia. White black or alien from another planet who in this day and age trusts young black thug looking kids? It's not racism it's common sense. Same with these white power guys with suspenders and doc marten boots and crewcuts-I don't trust them either. It would be great to hear a few black 'leaders' call these young punks on their crap instead of looking the other way and pretending it's racism when someone complains about these thugs. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@gactzn2 @AtlantaAvenger 

Maybe, then, the problem with violence is not race but poverty.  One day this world's population will be so mixed that we will not be able to distinguish who is "white" and who is "black" or any other "pure" race.  But, poverty will be with us much longer than racial demarcations will be with us.  That is why I think the focused "War on Poverty" should never have ended in our nation as it did when the Age of Greed appeared.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

@MaryElizabethSings @gactzn2 @AtlantaAvenger  Once again you are playing apologist. Plenty of locations with even higher poverty don't have this problem. This problem results from ghetto and thug culture that didn't exist before the Great Society began demolishing black families in the mid 1960s. The War on Poverty exists today under other names. No matter what name you call it, it has been spectacularly unsuccessful despite $ billions squandered.

gactzn2
gactzn2

@BurroughstonBroch @MaryElizabethSings @gactzn2 @AtlantaAvenger Yes- go back to the Moynihan Report- it discussed the over emphasis of economic importunity on Black Families- nothing was done- in fact- there was a renewed effort on the War on Crime, this was pushed even more in the 90's and has disastrous effects.

Figuratively: If I brand you a felon- I can legally impact your means to make a living for the rest of your life.  If I brand you a felon I can impact your right to vote.  If I brand you a felon- I can siphon money from you in the form of probation and court fees impacting your ability to be a provider.  I can control the narrative about how you came to be in this situation and affect the general trajectory of your life by that branding. The sooner  I condition you to all of these things- the more likely you are to view them as normalized parts of your existence.


gactzn2
gactzn2

@AtlantaAvenger A thug is a thug- black, white, or otherwise- black crime is concentrated in the metro area because there are more black residents in the metro area.  Check the crime demographics in other areas.  It is happening everywhere by individuals of every ethnicity- I have seen white students steal as well as black.  I have also seen white students sell drugs as well as black. If you read the backgrounds of some white students, single parent, parent in prison, on food stamps- you would think by a growing erroneous assumption that they are black- nope- white

jaggar1
jaggar1

This is the result of a lack of parenting, period. The entitlements the government hands out and racism the people like Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, and the President himself condone. Our president had the platform to make a difference in the black community, but he and his wife have chosen to do nothing. The schools are at wits end on how to educate students whose families don't participate at all. They contribute to the demise of America. I personally feel, if you think it is so bad in the USA, the US needs to put them on a one way fare to Africa. They love to talk about how their ancestors were brought here as slaves against their will and proudly call themselves African. I think we should give them the opportunity to go back to where their ancestors are from in Africa. Our country does not need Jessie Jackson or Al Sharpton to further divide the citizens.  They condone the horrible behavior of blacks rioting in the streets. We talk about shipping all of the illegals back to Mexico, but I can tell you that I would rather ship the criminal blacks back to Africa. NOT all blacks, but just the low life criminals. 

Ralph-25
Ralph-25

@jaggar1 I agree that parenting is important, particularly from an educated, employed father.  However, no shooting happens when there is no gun.

GTEE_1993
GTEE_1993

@Ralph-43 @jaggar1 Most of the time, children raised by a married, loving mother and father don't shoot other people.  It really doesn't have anything to do with guns.  With that said, Cain did kill Able with a rock.  The human heart is wicked.



gactzn2
gactzn2

@jaggar1 Don't forget to ship other overly aggressive white thugs back to Europe, Russia, Austria, Scotland, or wherever their ancestral roots are- bigot- while they are just as busy in trouble- they just have not made headlines- maybe once the black lowlifes are shipped off you will see how active the white "thug" life is-

popcornular
popcornular

Inherent aggression is genetic. Because this is an education blog, this concept is foreign to most posters, as their IQ and education does not lend itself to a real grasp of scientific reality. Debate is essentially useless, as they will simply babble away, incapable of comprehension, as impotent as ever, and a huge part of the problem as we slip closer to complete chaos.  

straker
straker

The question is not "what can we do about teens and guns".


The questions is "what will those in charge do about teens and guns"


Answer - nothing.

Ralph-25
Ralph-25

@straker The people 'in charge' are placed there by us.  Vote.  Time for lawsuits by those damaged by irresponsibility.  The courts are ready, the coffers are ready, and the victims are outraged. 

gactzn2
gactzn2

It is in the parenting.  I know of a lady who raised three sons primarily as a single parent.  All three went to college. Family structure is not the issue. The value and culture in the home is the main issue.  Biggest question- how is your child making use of their time? If you cannot account for a great deal of their "free" time- make your child accountable- find constructive things for them to do- make them complete tasks and participate in activities beyond the school house.  Parenting is hard work- but you only get out of it- in most cases- what you put into it- albeit- there are anomalies that easily shatter that argument.  

ljhays
ljhays

@gactzn2 Good parenting is one part of a complicated issue. Would that the solution could be as simple as you propose.

Lance Weatherby
Lance Weatherby

I think the title of the article asks the wrong question. The most important question is what can we do to keep our kids safe. Anything else is an agenda. When you have players that don't want to walk out on a field again or parents who will not allow their children to go to a high school football game due to fear of loss of life you got a big problem and you have a big problem that you need to address now. The shooting at Grady was the second shooting at a football game in less than a year. The lack of responsiveness by the City of Atlanta and Atlanta Public Schools borders on carelessness. They need to create a safe environment. To protect its citizens is one of the core functions of government entities. The City of Atlanta and APS need to keep our kids safe.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Lance Weatherby 

Almost everyone knows that attempted suicide is the person's cry for help for pain that is unresolved and needs addressing.  Likewise, attempted murders with guns has become a societal problem in which the perpetrators are crying out that they have unresolved pain that needs addressing.

We must think beyond the personal, and recognize what has caused this societal pain.  Part of what has caused it has been blaming and contempt for people who are not like us.  We must sincerely start to care as a nation for what has been happening to black lives, and the poor of all races, for the 40 years that America has taken its eye off of societal problems and placed its attention on the accruing of personal wealth at the expense of helping the less fortunate in society.  We are all connected and that is becoming more and more obvious.  The War on Poverty should never have ended when the Age of Greed and self-absorption started in the 1970s in America.  We are all now reaping what we have sown as a society.  Spiritual karma.

Lance Weatherby
Lance Weatherby

@OriginalProf It remains to be seen who the shooter was. I will remind everyone though that two years ago a Grady student shot herself on campus during the school day.


I also want to correct something that has been commonly reported but is factually incorrect. I was in the stadium during the shooting. The shooting did not take place after the game. The shooting took place in the middle of the third quarter. The game ended because the players left the field during the shooting. They were literally running for their lives.


With that said the question that you raise is a good one. Why is there no perimeter security? Another good one would be why is there no security check upon entering Grady Stadium? I believe that there was an incident where someone pulled a gun in the stadium last year. I walked in with a back pack Friday night that could have had anything in it.


The Georgia Dome seems to be in an area of town with a higher crime rate than Grady High School. You don't hear of people getting shot there during or after games. Why? Official security present inside and outside the stadium in substantial numbers.


OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Lance Weatherby 

I am willing to bet that the shooters did not come from either high school, but were just out roaming the streets at night. I know that area. Just down a few blocks and across Ponce De Leon are the notorious Bedford Pines Apartments on Boulevard. (Boulevard changes into Monroe at Ponce.) There have been many murders there, and drug-deals go down regularly in the area. Why wasn't there some sort of official security present outside the stadium after the game, in substantial numbers?

popcornular
popcornular

@Lance Weatherby

'They were literally running for their lives.'

I'll bet that was a sight to behold. Never will you see human beings moving faster in your life. 

popcornular
popcornular

@Lee_CPA2

Hard not to have a visceral reaction when reading such world-class nonsense crap. 

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@MaryElizabethSings

"Likewise, attempted murders with guns has become a societal problem in which the perpetrators are crying out that they have unresolved pain that needs addressing."


Oh....My....God....