I almost hate to even bring it up, the video, the dashcam recordings of the events leading up to and after Officer Matthews died tragically in a car crash on Shipyard Blvd. I hate to bring it up because I didn't start this fight and I seem to some to be taking up for the group that did start this all up by filing a lawsuit to have the videos released.
First let me make this perfectly clear, I do not think the videos should have been publicly released when and how they were released. However I do respect the need the press has to be able to obtain data like this in order to protect public interest and to hold those accountable for various possible shortcomings and/or possible acts of corruption. This is, as I have said before, the American way.
There are ways to do things and ways not to do things. I have made numerous attempts to obtain public documents and data from the sheriff and each time have met a stone wall. The WPD has been extremely generous and cooperative, always been that way thanks to the Chief's way of doing business. Maybe the historic stonewalling by the sheriff's office has created this rush to judgment by the Star News because of the frustrations that have led to an enormous distrust with anything related to law enforcement and how they conduct the public's business. Ask the Sheriff for a dashcam video of the chase and wrecking of a fleeing, finger waving nutjob and you see it (or what they say "it" is) with four people looking over your shoulder and NO you can't have a copy. But did the Star News get their panties all in a wad over that slap in the face? Not that I know of. Did the Sheriff release the video? No. Do we know what happened that night? No. But do we know what happened the night Officer Matthews died? Yes. How can we (the public) be sure? Because the Chief begrudgingly did the right thing and handed over the recordings.
Would I have posted the recordings? No. In fact I have not even requested a copy, I know people that were there that night, eye witnesses and I can take their word for it based on our personal relationships. But then I have no responsibility to the public for anything. Yes, we/I report news, but we/I do so with personal opinion and professional experience mixed in, we admit to being biased. We favor the good guys and hammer the bad. The Star News, by a journalistic code of ethics, is not biased, they are reporters of the fact, you won't or shouldn't find commentary or opinion anywhere but on the editorial pages.
I'm surprised the paper didn't read the public any better than they did, if they did then they knew the public would turn on them over the release.
I hate that this was done the way it was. I hate that the Chief had to turn the recordings over knowing what would happen. There isn't another human being, outside a blood relative of Officer Matthews, that respected Rich Matthews any more than Chief Evangelous . He had to have felt torn, to have been emotional, pissed, when he agreed to let go of the recordings. But he knew he had to, he knew why he had to and he knew it is part of his job to do so. You can't pick and choose what to release and what not to release, the law is very clear. As long as the information being requested does not jeopardize an ongoing investigation or endanger the life of someone, the information is public and anyone can request it and receive it.
I understand why the Chief released the recordings, I understand the request, I'm glad I saw how big that box was in the middle of the road, I'm glad to know the road conditions and the non-existent amount of traffic on the road. I saw the attempted escape of the felon Anthony Pierce as Cpl. Will Richards followed him through neighborhoods, that one might correctly assume, are inhabited by families with young children. But as one member of Blue emailed me and said, "this could have all been shown in still pictures, they didn't have to publish the video"
Actually you don't even have to show a still image to tell a story, case in point, want to know what kind of guy Officer Rich Matthews was? I'll tell you as I was told by a friend and coworker of Officer Matthews.
As Rich Matthews was leaving the WPD parking lot to begin his night shift work the day he died, a coworker saw a Santa hat on the head rest of the passenger side of the car, he stopped Matthews and said, "Hey it ain't Christmas anymore, what's with the hat?" To which Officer Rich Matthews replied back, "Brother, to me, every day is Christmas."
Now you can see what kind of guy this young officer was, hours before his tragic death, full of life, full of the Christmas spirit. You didn't need a picture, you couldn't have taken a picture to illustrate that imagery. But you see it, you can see that hat, that smile, that wink, in your mind's eye you see him driving off, going to work, putting his life on the line.
Pictures can't show what we all miss, pictures can't show what happened that night, moving pictures or still pictures will never show the intent, the determination, the consciousness, the alert state of readiness for anything, even a box in the middle of the road, a picture will never show what truly happened anymore than the words I received less than an hour after the crash when a friend called in the middle of the night and said, "It's bad Tre , it's bad." That's all I needed to know. It was bad, and will always be. Pictures will never make it better or worse for some. But for others, people who don't have that friend call them with a report, pictures show the box in the middle of the road, the lack of traffic on the roadway, the danger caused by the fleeing felon a mile away, pictures help prove than Officer Matthews was a professional responding to a call for aid in a manner that did not endanger the public nor recklessly cause his own death.
What do you think about the release of the video? I want to know.
Someone sent this blog a comment to post that if posted would set a flame on an already scorched issue. One point this person wanted to bring to our attention is that, "There will always be victims and one armed service men. Sometimes you have to decide if you want to live your life completely in their sorrows, or take time out of your life to..."
I lived a momnent or two in my life deep into the sorrowful pit of tragic events that have befallen many victims, I have witnessed, firsthand, a criminal world unimaginable to most. From being bled on by the dying, to listening to a 7 year-old tell me gruesome details of ritualistic sexual abuse. I have had a few experiences where I was forced to look down the barrel of a gun. On one occasion the gun pointed at me was held by a drug crazed madman keeping me captive for more than 2 days. I have had friends of mine raped, robbed and killed. It would be callous of me to ignore the cries of the victims when I have tasted those very tears myself.
But this comment received about life's balance, and about the many stories of one-armed servicemen is something I have been conscious of for years. Maybe it is because of the university training I have had as a psychology major, maybe it is because of my brother's advice and guidance and his 24 years of experience working in law enforcement to back it all up or maybe it is a combination of the two. Either way I have found time to play, to have a life, to work a job that does not allow me time to think of much else when I am on set and the camera is rolling. But in my freetime, this darkness is the center of my focus.
Some people in their off time fish, hunt, play golf, or just toss dollar bills around for fun. I do this, write and produce a weekly two-hour radio show and investigate crime, corruption and injustice. I do it because it has been proven to be successful. I do it because many times I am asked to do something to help. I do it out of respect for those others that have found the time to devote to being advocates, mentors and volunteers in community services organizations. I do it because I want to. I also do it because there isn't much time left.
Of course my way of going about this has crushed a few toes. Sticking my nose in places has had its consequences. Emails from less than enthusiastic supporters critical of my comments, emails telling me where to stick it, and a flat tire or two have done little to discourage my zeal.
As long as there are Johnnie Becks, Gary Rummers, Kayla Allens, and Michelle Bullards out there I will continue to demand justice. But first I will take the time to be a husband, a father, a son and a brother. I know what is important and what is not. So Chris I guess I can do both and there is a lot of evidence that I am not alone, there are many others out there that aren't watching television or being breast fed by hedonistic ideals. We live in a community that demands participation and sacrifice.
To many of us the Christmas season is filled with anxiety. What to buy, how to get it, when will I be able to pay for it, who deserves what and where can I find it. According to the National Retail Federation, the average person spends $738 on Christmas. For the minimum wage worker, this is equivalent to almost an entire month’s salary. The median income for a family is $41,891. After taxes it is somewhere around $32,000. Somewhere between 16 and $20,000 is the poverty level for a family of 3, 13.3% of the families in Wilmington are below the poverty level. That’s about 6,300 children. Children in households that are desperate, that see life differently that we do, that may one day be willing to do anything to have choices many of us take for granted.
Today, the average family owes roughly $8000 on their credit cards and make car payments in excess of $300 a month. The average home costs close to $200,000 now that means you have to have an income somewhere in the neighborhood of $60,000 to qualify.
For many of us Christmas is a lesson in extravagance and not a lesson in sacrifice and responsibility.
2005 years ago a child was born, a child offering promise. We celebrate the birth of that child, we have fought wars to protect that child’s place in history and we congregate and worship the child worldwide in hope that our faith will carry us to a better life.
Suppose just for a second that this child born 2005 years ago was just a child, a human being just like you and me. Suppose this child had to be raised and nurtured by parents and a community to fulfill its promise. Suppose this child’s parents recognized that child’s promise, a similar promise or potential our own parents saw in us as when we were just born.
As an expectant father I cling to the promise my soon to be born child offers me. A promise of love, a promise of hope. It will be this hope that will guide me as I raise my child, the hope of a better life, of an unconditional love and understanding. My child offers me a hope for the future as I instill values and encouragement.
Suppose this child born 2005 years ago is my child, your child, a future leader, perhaps a carpenter, a strong loving human being capable of withstanding peer pressure and temptations.
Suppose we celebrate this season of birth in hope of our own children. Suppose this is why Christmas is for those that believe in it, in the miracle of birth.
Ever think about that? About creation, a child, a life created within a woman.. Ever think about how powerful that is? How important it is to accept the responsibility required to raise that child, to teach it, to guide it and protect it and nurture it. How important it is to share life’s lessons with your child.
But when we over extend ourselves, pile on credit card debt, work two jobs to celebrate life’s golden calf we lose the child, the hope, our future. We become too involved in our own life to nurture another’s.
You have to ask yourself why our young are so influenced by drugs and gangs and a lifestyle so foreign to ours. Are the parents of these young men shot down in the middle of Red Cross Street bad parents? Are the parents of bright – well educated middle class children overdosing on heroin neglectful? Are the parents of the criminals and the culpable victims of senseless crime guilty of not being good parents?
Sometimes other adults make it impossible for a parent to raise a child correctly, as they wish. A 19 year old did not charter a boat or a plane to bring in the cocaine or heroin that killed these kids. A 16 year old did not own the gun that was stolen and used to shoot someone. Lock your guns up folks. A 14 year old did not create a multi billion dollar advertising industry used to promote and influence our young people to drink alcohol as if it is a right of passage. But a 57 year old signs street hoods to multi million dollar contracts and prints tens of millions CD’s of gangster rap and creates a cult of personality that effects what our 9, 10, 11 year olds perceive as popular. It is a popular group of adult professional athletes and business leaders that teach our children about the objectification of women as sex objects. Adults feeding at the utters of that golden calf betray the parents of our young and prevent all of us by their influences from the promises that lay ahead.
Yes parents have a responsibility to raise their children as if that child was the child born 2005 years ago. But we as a community, as a country also have a responsibility to work together and raise all our children and to do so without profiting on their vulnerability. There are plenty of opportunities out there to get involved. Take your church group for a game of pool at the H2O club on Red Cross Street. Bring one of those big busses to a troubled street corner, walk about the streets of downtown Wilmington and see if there is anyone you recognize that needs a ride home. The cops can’t do everything, the courts and prisons are overwhelmed, people are dying horrible violent deaths. Get involved… get involved for my child’s sake, get involved for yours, and for God’s sake get involved for that child born in Bethlehem 2005 years ago.
Roadside fruit and vegetable stands have given way to supermarket produce aisles brimming with, paraffin coated, product from the genetically reengineered fields of the gigantic conglomerated farms. Mom and pop stores which, not too long ago, were the voice of American free enterprise and the backbone of our neighborhoods, were once common place and community minded. Now that voice of American independence is hardly heard anymore due to the microphone enhanced voices of the minimum wage earners encouraging us to super-size anything and everything we order. It is this super-sized mentality coupled with the ease of access to credit or delayed payment plans that have enslaved many of us into the corporate racket that is now driving our economy. Are we all such gluttons of consumerism that we fail to see the very commodity we are actually purchasing when we charge-it? Dependency.
This commodity of dependence is now a global concern as evident in the struggles of the people of a city in India as it battles Coca-Cola because of a contract Coke has to have first dibs on the water supply, leaving the millions without water, unless, of course, they buy it packaged with fructose and caramel soda in Coke bottles. Someday in the future we will all have forgotten how to cook much less grow anything of substance and be totally dependent on the food put before us by some giant McCorporation. How many of us have taught a daughter how to sew a simple dress or a son how to build a piece of furniture. What about talking with them about finances, they all expect to be a famous athlete or a movie star, what do they expect to do with all the money they make? Give it to some corporate investment team of lawyers and stockbrokers to invest in Coca-Cola stock? When was the last time you, me, any of us, had a serious discussion about saving money when it didn’t have anything to do with paying off a debt we already owed?
10% of college students carry a $7,000 debt on their credit cards, these kids don’t even have a job yet, how can they afford such debt? A recent study shows that 46% of Americas food budget is spent on restaurants and take out food places. The average person eats out 4 times a week. The average national credit card balance is $3,250, according to myvesta.org, a nonprofit group that teaches people about smart spending. People are defaulting at record pace and here is why:
If you pay only the minimum amount due every month, it would take you 39 years to pay it all off. At 18 percent interest, you'd end up paying $8,680 in interest on a $3,250 loan. A July 2000 study of our spending habits, show that Americans carry $529 billion in credit card debt. That’s almost $2,000 for every man, woman and child in America, look around you, that’s a lot of people owing a lot of money, paying a lot of interest, for what?
But have no fear, we are not alone. Just look at our local government and the politics involved in the election process. When a candidate has to spend more than $100,000 to become Mayor something is not right. Surely this money is borrowed just like we borrow money on our Visa or Mastercard, it will have to be repaid somehow, with interest. Nothing’s free! Most likely those that are financing these campaigns are super-sizing their efforts for grabbing power and influence. An overwhelmingly huge majority of the contributors in the Broadhurst for Mayor campaign are connected to the real estate development business. What could possibly be their motivation? You tell me.
Certainly I understand that as Wilmington grows so does our need for housing. But I also understand that we do not have to super-size everything under the sun or pave over our mom and pop stores just to put up a new Wal-Marts or Outback Steakhouses. Too often developers drain off our wetlands (recent legal action against Yow, Miller and Elmore has brought new attention to this controversial eco-insensitive group of developers) to plop a cookie cutter pattern of cloned houses floating upon one concrete pad next to another. Why not act with a little bit of community responsibility, remember we live here. Show us where the schools are going to be, the fire stations, the libraries, the new water and sewer system and by the way please tell us who is going to pay for these costs? Tell us how your investment in a mayor or another politician outweighs our rights as citizens and tell us how your financial obligations usurp our own meager savings.
What study have you done Mr. Developer that shows we have a need for your development in the first place? Do we want our own property values to decrease because of the nice shiny new plastic sided tract houses you propose? Do we want our taxes increased because we taxpayers are financing your infrastructure? Our neighborhoods have already been annexed to cover these added expenses to our tax base, do you expect us to sit by while you profit at our expense?
And don't get me started on the backroom deals that gave an out of state developer the deal of the century in regards to the Civic Center or the arrogance of the rejection of the protest petition by the citizens opposing Autumn Hall and an earlier one regarding Love Grove. Oh, and definitely don't get me started on the betrayal of the African American community when the onetime champion of the black community, Katherine Moore, was coerced by the same political machine behind Broadhurst, to run again, thus potentially stealing votes away from a man that she nearly abdicated her council seat to weeks prior to her filing for another term. For more on how her community feels about that pick up a copy of the Wilmington Journal.
Sure we are a crime show and this political stuff really isn't a crime, or is it? Certainly it is a crime when illegals are hired to build the look-a-like houses that fill up our wetlands, certainly it is a crime when the disparity between the haves and have-nots widens and those less intelligent, or perhaps less patient resort to the same sort of greed they see examples of in the business or corporate world, to rip off what few crumbs we have left over by kicking in our front doors or prying open our windows. It is a crime when depression and hopelessness causes the weaker among us to resort to illegal drugs to numb our sense of victimization. And it is definitely a crime to steal a history and heritage from our children by winking at the law and making shady deals in backrooms.
Fighting corporate/private greed is as American as the Boston Tea Party. It is time to pony up and gallop thru the streets folks… the Red Coats are coming, the Red Coats are coming! That is if it isn't too late.