I had hoped that the people of Cobb County were above the racially divisive finger pointing, name calling and sheer idiocy overtaking a large part of the nation. Based on the disparity of opinions expressed by readers in their letters and by local columnists, it does not appear that is the case.
I read the protest signs proclaiming “Justice for Trayvon” and I wonder, “What do they mean by that? What do they expect to accomplish?” Is “justice” summed up in “Kill George Zimmerman?” Those signs are being carried too. How will that help Trayvon Martin? Will it satisfy the demand for justice? Or, must we also kill off the jurors (or maybe just the five of them who were white), the judge and the defense attorney?
Cobb County will be site of a trial starting Aug. 19 for a murder which happened in Glynn County on March 21. A 13-month-old Hispanic/white baby boy, Antonio West-Santiago, was shot in the face and killed, allegedly by a 17-year-old black youth named De’Marquise Elkins, during a robbery attempt. The baby’s mother, Sherry West, has said that she was walking the baby in his stroller when two youths, Elkins and 15-year-old Dominique Lang, approached her and demanded money. When she told them she had no money, that all her money was spent on taking care of her baby, Elkins reportedly asked “Do you want me to shoot your baby?” West said they first shot her, one shot grazing her head and the other entering her leg, above the knee. The older of the two then walked over to the stroller and allegedly shot Antonio in the face. They then fled the scene.
Obviously this will be a high-profile case at least in Cobb County. We must hope that it does not attract the national attention attached to the Martin/Zimmerman trial, or we will watch our county turned into a seething hotbed of hate and malice, provoked by divisive “leaders” who continue to fan the flames of a dying racial prejudice.
There is already talk that either the baby’s mother or father killed him for the insurance money, and are trying to railroad these two “innocent” little boys. At present it is just talk, but, in the wrong hands, it can be turned into a racial conspiracy. We must guard against allowing that kind of thing to happen.
We need to quit the demonstrations, the protests, the signs and banners, the hate speech and the racially divisive talk. Race relations in this country, until recently, have been vastly improved. For better or worse we elected a black President. Atlanta has seen a long string of black mayors, black police chiefs and city councils, as have many other localities all over the country. Blacks are significantly represented in the Senate and the House of Representatives, not only nationally, but in almost every state legislature.
Our schools, governments, workplaces, fire departments, police forces and the military are all evidence of the coming to fruition of Dr. King’s dream, of a time when people are judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.
I fear that all the racially divisive and inflammatory talk and actions of the past month may well set that progress back further than any of us wants to imagine. Dr. King, were he here, would most assuredly prevail upon us all to let cooler heads prevail and to preserve the progress we have made. He would be saddened indeed if it is thrown away over one unfortunate tragedy, and the desire of some to heat the flames of racial hatred to a white hot state, to further their own agendas.
Cobb has the opportunity to take the high road and show the rest of the country how it should be done. It remains to be seen if we do so.
Pete Borden is a retired masonry consultant from east Cobb.