This has been a rough week for East Knoxville. Last Friday a young man from our high school was shot and killed while he was leaving the school in his car. Then on Tues, another young woman from our high school was found shot in the street and also died. (And this comes after another child was shot two weeks before). Our school and the middle school have been moved to virtual all week as everyone tries to get a handle on the situation.
I’ve not had a great week. I’ve been depressed and frozen and functioning at low capacity. I’ve been trying to put my finger on why. I did not know these children personally, and they were not friends with my kids. But, they attended the same school. They are children who died senselessly. All of our high school community is mourning. All of these are enough reasons to be struggling. (And we offer our prayers and condolences for the families who lost their children.) On top of all of that pain though, what is causing even more stress for me, and I imagine a lot more parents in our community, is wondering how we move forward.
A good percentage of our highschool kids walk to school. We live only half a mile away from the highschool and we have had kids walking to school every day for the past six and a half years. Should I let my child walk to school anymore? But then, I remember that the young man who was shot, was DRIVING A CAR as he left the school. So, now what do we do?
I listened to the community press conference that was given on Wednesday. I heard a lot of people saying This has got to stop! We are going to stop this now! But I didn’t hear a lot of concrete plans on how they are going to stop it.
Our principal has told us that they will be emailing a bunch of information on how we are going to move forward, but I am still waiting to get that email.
In all these press conferences, I have also heard a lot of people say, We’ve got to come together as a community and make this stop! What does that mean exactly? I’ve been scratching my head wondering how I, a property owner and sixteen year resident in this neighborhood, am supposed to make the criminals go away. I wasn’t aware that I, as a private citizen, really had any authority to deal with criminals. I do my part. If I see something that is very obviously wrong/dangerous, I call it into the police. But that’s about all I can do.
Trouble comes with people. We have lived here sixteen years, and I can always tell when a new group has moved in that is causing trouble. We have an increase of traffic, an increase in gunshots, an increase in police calls. And then, maybe something horrible happens, like the time there was a shooting in the apartment two houses down from us. After that, they all moved away and it got quiet and peaceful again. If we, as the neighbors, are aware of increased suspicious activity in our street, surely the police are aware as well. Especially since they get called often to come respond to whatever craziness is going on. This is not a criticism of the police, just pointing out that the police are probably just as aware as we are when these groups move in. So what exactly are we, as a community, supposed to be doing to combat this lawlessness?
Monday morning is coming soon and I am still unsure what to do about getting my daughter to and from school. Walk her there myself? Drive her there? Let her continue as normal? Getting her home in the afternoon is even more difficult because I am already picking up other children from a different school, and our high school is not designed for an easy flow of traffic after school. In fact, I always avoid the school when kids are being let out because it’s a huge snarl of traffic, buses, and walking kids.
They have mentioned an increased police presence when kids are going to and from school. I hope that they follow through on this. I, personally, want to see police cars on each street my daughter has to walk on. I don’t know if that is possible or not. But it seems to me that our kids deserve some drastic measures on the part of the adults in charge to make sure they can walk to and from school every day without being killed. And while this whole community wants to see our kids safe, we need some concrete steps and measures, not just blanket statements of how we need to DO SOMETHING.