The bodega, where 15 year-old Lesandro Guzman-Feliz was killed, has been sold. The new owners opened earlier this month and although they received pushback from some local residents, business continues as usual. People come in to buy their leche evaporada, platanitos, macarrones. Like nothing ever happened.
The video of Lesandro’s death by machete went global. And in order to get a better understanding of what happened, I watched the video and honestly, it made me sick to my stomach. The blatent disrespect for another human life, stomped out like a roach crawling across the floor. And could anything have gone more wrong? No one helped this child. Not One. Yes, he was killed by the gang members but if you read or listen to the news reports, there was a police cruiser across the street from the bodega. It was a hot summer night, there were people on the street, many of them pulled out their cell phones and started videotaping the attack. Lesandro managed to get back inside the bodega to ask for help, the owners were seen shooing him away. He went back outside bleeding profusely he could be seen saying to someone, Call 911. Before he finally made the 1 block walk to the hospital and collapsing near the entrance. By the way, there were two police officers near the hospital entrance as Jr. walked past them. They did nothing as well.
Now we know about Lesandro because his killing was caught on tape but guess what? There are others like him everyday getting attacked by machete in The Bronx. Some are severely injured, and some don’t survive. There was one incident a few months ago where a 14 year-old boy was chased onto the highway by a band of machete wielding attackers. That boy managed to survive the attack, but he lost a kidney.
Now with this disturbing reality happening in The Bronx there is also something else that is very unsettling to me. It’s the circumstances that brought The Bronx to this level.
The community is plagued with domestic violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, unemployment, families are not intact. No one gets married. Single parent families are the norm. Fathers disappear from raising their kids. There’s no financial stability. For most of these residents of color it takes every financial resource that they have to get the rent paid. And the children are left to raise themselves. The elders turn a blind eye to disciplining the children in the neighborhood. Because the societal paradigm is, that’s not my responsibility. Look there’s no doubt that racism has a big role to play in the 10 issues that I just mentioned. But---there comes a time when despite the bigotry communities if not anything else but for shear survival must learn to rely on themselves. Do I sound naïve by that statement? I don’t think so. I’ve seen Koreans, Indians, Africans, Haitians do it.
Sure, those 12 gang members who were arrested are responsible for Lesandro’s death, but, the community is also at fault.
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