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Too angry to cry about Cornelius German

Updated: May 29, 2013 6:37AM



I can’t shed any tears for Cornelius German, the 15-year-old South Side boy who was gunned down blocks from President Obama’s home.

I am too angry to cry.

With all due respect to Cornelius’ parents, Ronald German and Timika Rutledge, Cornelius appeared to be the teen concerned parents are trying to protect their kids from.

According to police, he was affiliated with a gang and at the time of his death, he was leaving a backyard dice game.

That’s not the type of behavior that points to a bright future. It is also not the type of behavior you would expect from a teen who is growing up in a two-parent household.

Additionally, the teen had been kicked out of elementary school for fighting, and had spent nearly three years at an alternative school.

Obviously, Cornelius’ background doesn’t make what happened to him right.

The Chicago Police Department should look for this boy’s killer with the same tenacity they displayed when they pursued the person responsible for fatally shooting 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton in the very same neighborhood.

But don’t expect Cornelius’ death to spark the outcry that followed Hadiya’s death.

There is a big difference between Cornelius and Hadiya.

While Hadiya represented the hope a community has in its youth, Cornelius represented the exact opposite. He is the face of the menace that is destroying black communities from the inside out.

I don’t want to see any child lying dead in the street, and I’m sure this family’s pain is as great as the pain Hadiya’s family endured. But we can’t ignore that the victim in this shooting was not an innocent bystander standing in a public park.

Indeed, the big question on my mind is what happened to Cornelius to set him on such a crooked path?

For instance, Cornelius’ father told my colleague, Mark Brown, his son “would go to school some days, and some days he wouldn’t.”

I can’t imagine any father being cool with that.

In my house, not going to school meant not going anywhere. And if you refused to go to school, you weren’t going to be lying up in my house.

Cornelius appeared to have had little discipline.

On the day of his death, the juvenile was supposed to be performing community service with an anti-violence group, but instead was hanging out at a dice game, according to reports.

Like so many other parents, Rutledge and German, the boy’s parents, are in denial about their son’s gang involvement.

“He didn’t have no gang tattoos. He didn’t have no piercings,” Rutledge told reporters.

But the mother acknowledged that her son hung out with an “older, rougher crowd who were probably involved with gangs.”

If a young person is hanging out with gang members, more than likely that person is a gang member.

People will argue that when a child is killed, it shouldn’t matter if that child is affiliated with gangs. But it does matter.

Much of the violence that is occurring in black neighborhoods is attributed to gangs. So ignoring the role gang activity plays in violence is like ignoring the danger posed by a child playing in traffic.

Unfortunately, it is easier to blame the mayor and the police for failing to stop the killings, than it is for some parents to make the sacrifices needed to give children an alternative to gangs.

Frankly, these parents can’t wait for the city’s anti-violence programs to kick in.

Parents who have successfully kept their sons or daughters away from the gang lifestyle got those children involved in positive, structured activities even if it meant taking them outside the neighborhood.

But when it comes to violence, we should never forget who the real victims are.

They are the young people who continue to do the right thing even though the odds have been stacked against them. And they are the young people who have been killed in this city while trying to enjoy everyday life. As adults, we are responsible for creating a safer environment for all our children.

But I have only so many tears to cry.



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