Torricelli on the Newark killings

The execution of several young school children in Newark challenged all of our abilities to understand.Senseless death in an Iraqi city or a Colombian jungle doesn’t challenge us. Separations of space and culture allow us to accept the tragedy as just another mystery of life. The Newark murders were different. They were senseless, cruel and here.

These weren’t drug dealers fighting over territory. These weren’t children abandoned by troubled homes. These were college kids from loving families. The success of their lives represented hope for America overcoming all of the things that have plagued her history. Poverty andracism were being defeated.

The enormity of it requires us to find something of value. The community was united. Gangs renounced the killings. Guns were being handed to police officers. None of it meant anything to me. When the cameras are gone, I worry the gangs willgo back to work and the communitywill again cast a blind eye on the struggle of others.

It all seemed so hopeless. I called a friend who ministers at a Newark Church to discuss the despondency of it all. I inquired about the congregation. An illegal alien of Hispanic origin has just been arrested as the lead suspect. The victims were all African American. How much tension, I inquired,was there between the communities?

There was silence on the phone. It’s not simply that there was no tension. It hadn’t occurred to him that there might be a problem. There are no silver liningswhen a cloud this dark visits any community. Just maybe, however, there is some begrudging progress among all the despair. The killings are part of a sad continuum that’s been going on for as long as I can remember. Maybe our reaction to each other isn’t.

Torricelli on the Newark killings