Stop complaining and take action

Published 6:38 pm Wednesday, October 24, 2018

When I and a lot of others around my age were growing, up, the last thing we worried about was getting shot at.

That’s not to say juvenile crime wasn’t a problem in my community. People back then griped and complained about “kids going wild,” and how many of the teenagers during that period were headed for Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Back when I was growing up, normally the worst thing a juvenile could do was get drunk or steal a car. There were the occasional fights where disputes were settled with fists and some rolling around in the dirt or on the pavement. Boy, have things changed.

It wasn’t until I was working for the Decatur Daily in Decatur, Alabama, that I became exposed to a new type of violence involving young people. During my tenure there, I covered several trials of teenagers and people in their early 20s charged with murder — and in one case capital murder — in the deaths of other young people.

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One trial involved a 12-year-old getting shot by his 15-year-old cousin who was playing with a gun that went off with the bullet striking the victim in the head. The capital murder case involved a drive-by shooting to settle an old score and an innocent bystander was killed.

In the 20 or so years since leaving Decatur, these incidents involving basically kids killing kids have become more prevalent since I’ve been covering crime and courts, and I find it disturbing. In my time here, I’ve written a lot about teens shooting teens with guns, sometimes causing the death of the victim and sometimes wounding them.

And our most recent case last Monday where a teenager was shot during a drive-by shooting bothers me, because one of the accused was in their 30s and should know better.

I’m not going to even try and delve into the psychology of why someone feels they have to use a weapon to resolve a dispute. But when I was in Decatur, another reporter and I worked on a piece on juvenile violence, and I interviewed a juvenile probation officer who told me many kids have no sense of reality, because they see someone get shot on a television show and then see the same person on another show a week later and to them death didn’t seem permanent. That may be the case.

In my strange sense of thinking, it just seems like it should be time when we say “enough” and get involved with finding solution. I rarely recommend or suggest an event in this column, but King Solomon Baptist Church is having panel discussion Saturday at the church at 7 p.m. on urban violence. Here is a chance to get involved. Listen to the discussion and participate; get educated and then find some way to help.

I see and hear the complaints when the stories about people shooting each other hit the paper. It’s time as a community to stop complaining and act.

John Surratt is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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