I am not a big fan of balloon releases. Even 60 years ago, when the crime in the Black community wasn’t at the heinous level that exists today, I couldn’t see it happening in regards to crime. Especially when a child becomes the victim of a horrific murder. The response by some in the Black community to send balloons up into the sky, truly shows how looney some of us are!

What I would rather see are some heartfelt calls for the perpetrator to be found, with the hope that some severe bodily injuries be done to them. I’d also like to see emphasis on getting our elected officials to put through laws that can stringently be applied to the criminal elements who are causing all the chaos.

Most of all, I’d like to see promises made by people that they will serve on jury duty when called so they can make sure justice prevails. A meaningless release of balloons into the air is, in my humble opinion, nothing more than a momentary, feel-good, symbolic action, the meaning of which is just hot air.

Those balloons will not seek out the criminals and turn them in. Those balloons, when they land, do not have a message with the description of the perpetrator for people to hunt him or her down. Instead, the balloons will float around and then eventually fall to the ground and some poor animal will ingest it and die. But hey … everybody had their “feel good” moment at the release.

It was the recent balloon release for Jarvis Watts that got to me. He’s the 9-year-old boy who was in the family home on New Year’s Day and ended up dead with three bullet wounds. The bullet holes were in his face, neck and hands. A family member who was in the home at the time is alleged to have said that Jarvis shot himself. Somehow, three bullet holes does not say self-inflicted. I don’t know if the boy was right or left-handed, but if one of the bullets went through his predominant hand, that would be even more amazing. Even more interesting, police haven’t been unable to find the weapon. Another amazing moment out of that household. More than likely it’s a stolen/unregistered weapon with an unlicensed owner who probably would be going back to jail for a long time; thus, that person is not anxious to step forward and admit it.

I thought back to another time when a balloon release was the response, after the horrific murder of Jaslyn Adams. She was the little girl who committed the horrific crime of being in the backseat of her father’s car in the drive-thru at the McDonald’s, Kedzie and Roosevelt. The shooters who came upon them, shot more on the passenger’s rear side then they did on the driver’s side. Those bullets said that the intentionality of killing the child in the backseat is pretty obvious.

Every year we progress forward in calendar time, but behavior-wise, there are far too many in the Black community who are headed butt backwards. It is time to take a stand against the stupidity they manifest.

Let’s get serious about addressing criminal behavior and not turning to feel-good actions that do little to address the crime problem.

Arlene Jones, a resident of the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, writes a weekly column for the Austin Weekly News, a Growing Community Media publication.

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