Saturday, December 5, 2020

Friday Night News

 From the Howard County Police Department Twitter account, 12:02 am, December 5, 2020:

At appx 10:23pm, officers responded to a shooting in the parking lot of the Mall in Columbia. A single adult male victim was pronounced dead at the scene. No other injuries were reported. Based on prelim info, police do not believe there is an ongoing threat to the public. 1/2

Officers are inside the Main Event talking to potential witnesses. No additional information is available at this early stage of the investigation. Will update. 2/2

For those who respond to this by mocking Columbia’s recent naming by Wallet Hub as the Safest City in America for the third year running, I’ve got nothing for you. It is still possible to be a relatively safe place in relationship to other communities without being a perfectly safe place, but, that’s not the perspective one is likely to hear today.

It is, for instance, possible to be a school with the most successful “outcomes” and still have individual children who fail. That favorite restaurant you swear by? You’ve probably had one bad meal there. A partner in professional or community advocacy who gets things done? Not always. Sometimes they’ve let you down. I would hazard a guess that in every overwhelming success we can point to there are the dread examples of the individual case, where there is failure.

When we are predisposed to believe, those examples aren’t deal breakers. If we are inclined to mock or tear down, that one example surpasses the whole dang body of work. This is not good math, science, or community-building. And I am really tired of it.

Overall Columbia/HoCo is a safe place to live and work. If you have never lived in a truly unsafe place you may not understand this. Also, you have no idea how lucky you are. If you think it is your job to stand by the social media wayside and flail your arms shouting “Baltimore City is coming!” when we all know it is no more than a racist dog whistle, please sit down.

Someone had a gun. Someone was at the Mall in the evening. Someone was shot. Someone has died. 

That’s what we know. 

If there were no opportunities for night life at the Mall after nine pm, would there have been a shooting? Well, with the change of how Malls are used and how they be are being kept alive by continuing adaptation to current needs, would the Mall still even be functioning without hybrid uses? Would it be a Mall at all? Would it be a seedy, ill-frequented hulk of its former self? Would it be more likely to attract unwanted activity?

I don’t know. Do you?

To be honest I have never felt the remotest desire to own a gun. I don’t need one in my home or when I leave the house. It is difficult for me to imagine the mindset of the person at the Mall in Columbia, Maryland on a Friday night for whom carrying a gun makes sense. Much less using one. Those are attitudes that come from a very different place, reasons that escape me. 

I just finished reading 157 comments on the Howard County Police Department page and not a one of them asks, “what can we do to make Columbia/HoCo a better, safer place?”

Is that a question worth asking?

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