Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In Memory...

Update @ 1:01pm, 3/27/08: I noticed a misspelling last night and wanted to edit it. Thanks for the heads up.

Its now March 26th, 2008. I normally wouldn't have much to say about life in general on a wednesday because I wait until fridays to reflect, but something really has bothered the hell out of me today and I think now is a good a time as any to talk about it.

Some of you may know the name Zach Sowers, who, back in June 2007 was beaten when he was within seconds of entering the "safety" of his baltimore home by four youths. He was beaten, essentially, for his wallet, which the youths then used to go on a shopping spree for a few days. The beating left Sowers in a coma over the next few months, leaving his wife Anna as his main advocate for the resulting weeks.

Anna, who by my standards, is one of the strongest people I've ever read about, wanted someone to react to the savage beating that her husband took. She wanted to give a voice to Zack and get justice - to me, not only for him but for many others like him. As it was 2007 - and a contentious mayoral election year - her voice was heard, albeit briefly, by the main candidates of the time for Mayor, Keiffer Mitchell and Sheila Dixon. While the leadership of the city, by my standards, let a small yelp out for Anna, the community made large efforts to support her, sponsoring events to help her defray medical expenses for Zach.

As time progressed, unfortunately, the rage and disgust expressed by the law abiding citizens of the city diminished, and it became business as usual in harm city. Under the brilliant legal leadership of the State's Attorneys Office - quick to end any case which could result in them looking bad - the case was swept under the rug, over the cries of Anna and her supporters. Three of the four involved somehow in the beating were sent away for eight years. One was sentenced to (life with everything suspended but) forty years, but we all know how many people in this city serve the full sentence in this city.

I never knew Zach in any way, much like most citizens of Baltimore, except through the vivid memories of those who did know him. Still, I wonder what he would say about how quickly his beating was turned into another random occurrence. I wonder what he would say to those who more or less ruined the life of his wife, family, and friends - who, by all accounts describe him as a stand up guy that you'd want in your corner. Most importantly, I wonder what he would have said to those who inflicted the pain on him.

As time progressed since June, the chances of this question being answered diminished. However, on Tuesday March 25th the chance became zero as Zach Sowers died, silencing a voice which long went on deaf ears in Baltimore. When I read this, cynic in me felt relieved that, at least from a financial standpoint, Anna Sowers would no longer feel the financial burden placed on her by the four youths, and that Zach would finally have peace. Still, as someone who too has lost someone he loved, I know she would bear that burden a thousand times over, without question, to see Zach even for a minute.

In truly fitting fashion, the Baltimore Sun - which I lovingly refer to as the "Calvert Street TP factory" - embodied the dismissive nature that this city exercised on Zach, failing to even correctly cover the facts of the cases relating to him, and dismissing it with an afterthought:

"The date of the attack on Zach Sowers was misstated in an earlier version of this article online. Also, the status of Trayvon Ramos' case was misstated; because the case did not go to trial, no one testified against Ramos. The Sun regrets the errors."

As I write this today I can't help but feel utter disgust with the whole of the situation, and the whole of Baltimore. All too often, the leadership in this city tries to minimize the scope of violence in this city, isolating the violence to those who essentially "have it coming". No one makes this statement about Zach yet those who beat him essentially received slaps on the wrist as if he were.

But lets be honest: this is not the first time we've heard about this. It will not be the last, for that matter. More people will suffer due to lackluster leadership, a hesitance by those connected to the judiciary to do their jobs and keep us safe from those who mean to harm us. And, perhaps most devastating of all, we as a people - not as a race of people, but as a citizenry - will continue to blame the crime and not the criminal, essentially coddling those who care about nothing more than themselves and getting what they want by any means necessary. Blame whomever you want - society, the parents of the criminals, etc. - but it doesn't change the price that each of us pays for the horrible beast of our own creation in maryland.

Thinking about the whole of this, it isn't fair. No one deserved to face what Zach's family has since last June, and no one deserves it. But its just the way it is in Baltimore, and its how it will always be until someone does something.