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The world we live in is filled with reasons to smile and enjoy what we’ve been blessed with. In the world we die in, there are reasons at every turn for us to be saddened and down-hearted. The world we live in is filled with people who are willing to offer their help if needed, their shoulder if called for and their resources when we fall short. In the world we die in help is rarely given without extremes, support is half-hearted at best and resources are available…if you’re able to pay the premium to qualify for it.
As the community continues to wait for answers to the questions looming over the Sarasota County Sheriff’s handling of the shooting death of Rodney “Hot Rod” Mitchell, the distrust runs deeper…matched only by the pain. Roadside vigils were launched as family and friends gathered along the 301 corridor near the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King Way and a helicopter circled overhead in the evening sky.
Signs were waved as passing motorists blew their car horns in support of those who stood to express their grief layered with anger. The supporters lined the access road known as Washington Court…the same venue where the “traffic stop” had occurred. Some expressed their pain through music as stereo systems played rap tracks laced with thug sorrow. The faint scent of marijuana drifted through the air as others seduced their anger with smoke and alcohol. Though I don’t smoke, I could barely blame them. If their only solitude could be found between drags of a joint, I could only hope that they would be too burnt out to raise a raucous.
Coincidentally, I came upon this situation as I was leaving the Joint Community Forum at Robert L. Taylor. The main topic: the proposed application of crime eradication techniques learned by Vice Mayor Willie Shaw and his delegation of “Sarasota activists”. Are these strategies too late for those we’ve lost? Yes. Can we still save those who may end up in harm’s way? Absolutely!
The news and online blogs are littered with accounts of the killing-grounds, of the senseless and sometimes un-solved murders. Our challenge now is to embrace the changes that we need to make so that memories of nights like this become more the exception than the norm. In accepting this challenge though, we must have a clear understanding of what has happened to prevent it from happening again.
Approaching this from a citizen’s perspective may not get the answers to the questions that we, as a community, should have:
Let’s aggressively pursue the resolutions in a civilized manner. Contact the Sarasota NAACP branch, contact your City representatives. Demand action. Demand answers. Let’s not allow the world we live in to become the world we die in.
Vice Mayor Willie Charles Shaw: 1565 1st Street, Rm. 101, Sarasota 34236 | 941.954.4115
County Commissioner Carolyn Mason: 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota 34236 | 941.861.5344
Sarasota NAACP / Trevor Harvey: 1751 Dr. Martin Luther King Way, Sarasota 34234 | 941.355.2097