ARE HEROES CELEBRATED IN ATLANTA?

POLITICSOn Monday night after 11:00 pm in Atlanta, Georgia, an ex-marine was walking home from work at a midtown Atlanta restaurant and was approached by five teens. The teenagers flashed two shotguns, a .38 and two pairs of brass knuckles. The waiter ran from his assailants shouting "fire" and the resident alertly called 911. The teens, however, pursued their prey and upon catching up to the waiter, a disjointed struggle for life and death ensued.

"I'm sorry the whole thing happened. I hate that this world has gotten to the point where it is predatory, " said a soft spoken Thomas Autry.

Atlanta Police have correctly proclaimed Mr. Autry's actions to be a lawful case of self defense. They report the teens were all from middle class families with well maintained lawns - two of the teen's mothers work as teachers in Atlanta schools.

Autry said that had learned to be alert at night from growing up in New York City, but it was a white cat crossing the street that had alerted him to the gang of teens getting out of a 2007 dark blue Cadillac. He fled, only to be cornered by his assailants brandishing weapons. Two carried shotguns.

"My first instinct was to run," said Autry. "Those kids were younger than me. They caught me and cornered me. It was about life preservation."

Autry was able to kick the shotgun out of the hands of one young man and producing a pocket knife managed to cut one of the young men and stabbed the lone female assailant in the chest.

That's when her accomplices aborted the assault on the desert storm veteran and rushed her to a local Atlanta hospital where Amy Martin, 17, was pronounced dead. Another assailant, Chris Daniel, 18, is reportedly still in critical condition. The others were later arrested and charged with attempted armed robbery and aggravated assault.

As the news rang out in Atlanta , what do you suppose was the reaction of the black community? Cheers for the would-be victim who successfully defended himself? Shock and dismay as to the state of well-to-do black youth who seem to have degenerated to the level of predators in the "city too busy to hate"?

Well... I tried to gauge the response of the community to the horrible events of Memorial day by listening expectantly to WAOK, black Atlanta's Talk Radio hub. I fully expected the listeners to be outraged that this could happen in the hometown of Martin Luther King and Maynard Jackson. But to my surprise, the listeners were more upset that two teens had been wounded and one had died, than they were concerned about the ex-marine who had been assaulted at gun point by five young, middle class black assailants.

The ex-marine ever humble, expressed his sorrow for the life taken in defense of his own. Some wanted to deem him a hero...he quickly declined. Many tried to pass rumors of a pregnant teen killed by the victim to apparently foist a way to blame the victim for her death. But the overall sentiment of the community of radio activists was clear - we must find a way to 'blame the victim'. You see in Atlanta, heroes are not welcomed. Thomas Autry had taken a life - maybe two and he must pay. How dare someone kill one of our precious teens? "We don't care if she is a robber and thief" appeared to be the unspoken sentiment of the callers in Atlanta.

They seemed oblivious to the cause of the teen's death...she was a part of a band of thieves and robbers...and luckily they had attacked the wrong man. A true hero who refused to lie down and play victim.

While I continued listen to the barrage of comments, I heard to my amazement...one after another... like a mob... the refrain of "vigilante" reverberated. The righteously outraged talk show hosts, however, persisted against the ignorant, bravely condemning the violent actions of these hip hop bandits and praising the ex-marine for his courageous defense of self. I remember thinking ...the only reason they couldn't castigate the ex-solder was because he was not proud that he was forced to take a life in defense of his own. He was sober and saddened by the whole event.

The unspoken message was clear. The dreaded black defense of "you're blaming the victim' was rendered impotent and no one dared actually uttering the words, for aught of being discovered for their secret bigotry. The tool used to perfection to quell perceived racists and non-racist alike had been stopped in its tracks. And you could sense their consternation as their most reliable weapon had been rendered as impudent as their inane commentary.

You see..this was not race related. This was about black Atlanta finest teenagers, some even scheduled to graduate from one of Atlanta 's most prestigious high schools - Grady high. But to the community activist, the purveyors of "racism is everywhere< you can't achieve a worthy life because of it" - everything is race! Don't forget boys and girls.."Racism is everywhere!" This had to be portrayed as the white man's fault, because "we are helpless to defend ourselves in this all-pervasive racist America" was the message, the radio activist tried to convey to the talkshow hosts! But on this day, in this situation, the old bugaboo didn't play on WAOK.

Still, I wonder, what would compel good students, middle class black teenagers, to prey upon the innocent like this? Some say it's the value system of the hip hop culture where the thugocracy prevails. Is it possible that the heroes of these teens influenced them beyond their better judgment? And if so, where was the influence of their parents value system? Where did they get the message that terrorizing the citizens of Atlanta was acceptable behavior?

Autry, who was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1992, has been deemed by many in Atlanta to be a real life hero, but Autry continued to defer and yet instruct:

"The heroes are those guys out there fighting for us every day and not getting respect, he added, "That [killing the attacker] wasn't admirable, it was fight or flight — and I tried the flight."

But in Atlanta where real heroes are dishonored, one brave man is afraid to accept our praise and thanks for his quick thinking and courageous actions which brought five thugs to justice.

I say Atlanta is the home where the brave have no honor and the thugocracy of hip hop rules. This unwillingness to confront the influence of the hip hop thugocracy on young teens is rife in most black communities in America, I sense... and the parents are to blame, not hip hop music.

The surviving suspects are identified as:

Kendell Barksdale, 17, of Atanta.
Christopher Hayes, 17, of Douglasville.
The 16 year old's identity was not released due to his age.

Update (6/5):
Atlant Journal-Constitution:
Minster has harsh words for gun-toting youths at funeral for slain robber


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