On March 21, 2013, in the coastal city of Brunswick, GA, 13-month-old Antonio Santiago was shot in the face and killed while he was being pushed in a stroller by his mother, a white woman living in a majority non-white city. Two black teenagers, De’Marquise Elkins, 17, and Dominique Lang, 15, have been charged with the crime. The infant’s mother, Sherry West, who was also shot, alleged that the boys demanded money from her. When she said she didn’t have any, West said Elkins fired four shots, grazing West’s ear and striking her in the leg. He then walked around to the stroller and allegedly murdered the baby boy.
The city of Brunswick is 58.9 percent black, 27.5 percent white and 11.3 percent Hispanic. Don’t count on any “social justice” rallies or federal investigations into racism or racial profiling in this case, however.
The city of Sanford, FL, where Trayvon Martin was shot, is only 45 percent white, and media were more than willing to indict the city for systemic racism — and to indict George Zimmerman by extension. The publicity surrounding that case precipitated an investigation by the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department into the possibility that Zimmerman committed a hate crime. Moreover, that investigation continues, despite the fact that FBI interviews conducted with 35 of Zimmerman’s neighbors, co-workers and an ex-girlfriend found no evidence of racial bias.
It’s not as if statistics don’t back up the possibility that West and her child were targeted out of racial animus. A study conducted by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Statistics reveals that, based on data compiled from 1980-2008, blacks “were disproportionately represented as both homicide victims and offenders. The victimization rate for blacks…was 6 times higher than the rate for whites” and the “offending rate for blacks…was almost 8 times higher than the rate for whites[.]” Another study entitled “The Color of Crime” compiled statistics up to the year 2005. It reveals that blacks “are an estimated 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against a white than vice versa,” and “2.25 times more likely to commit officially-designated hate crimes against whites than vice versa.”
But because the victims in the Brunswick case aren’t of the right races (the New York Times might even describe Antonio as a “white Hispanic” baby), no race relation moralizers will rise to demand an investigation. No national figure will call for “soul searching” over the circumstances that led to the heinous killing of the infant. No one will hold the systemic social pathologies that produced the crime accountable.
As for the media, their relative uninterestedness in this case, in comparison to their wall-to-wall coverage of the Zimmerman case — coverage that included misrepresentation, calculated distortion and outright lying — is telling. National media are primarily interested in reporting on the case when they can implicate the parents and cast doubt on the guilt of the two black suspects facing trial.
Thus, on March 26, USA Today ran a piece aimed at besmirching the character of Sherry West. West’s daughter, Ashley Glassey, who said her mother lost custody of her when she was 8, questioned West’s behavior when she spoke with her on the night of the shooting. She claims her mother asked her how soon she would get an insurance check, and that she changed her story about the order of the shooting. (Apparently neither Glassey nor the paper considered the possibility that West might have been in a state of shock.)
In another interview with ABC affiliate WTLV, Glassey claimed her mother is “schizophrenic” and “bipolar.” On July 16, CBS News ran a story noting that both West and the baby’s father, Louis Santiago, “had gunshot residue on them the day their son was killed.” They cited a Fox affiliate in Jacksonville, FL as their source. The Fox story went on to say that Santiago is in jail for violating a restraining order after he “went nuts” after the murder, according to West. “He was throwing things through the window and terrorizing me, saying that I killed my baby and it should have been me,” she said.
Notwithstanding the parents’ character flaws, the police don’t believe that it’s credible that the parents were responsible. “My baby was shot. I was shot near my head and of course there’s going to be GSR [gunshot residue] everywhere,” West said in her defense, further noting that Santiago “may have touched my clothes in the hospital if there was GSR” on him. The state forensic report said that Santiago either “discharged a firearm, was in close proximity to a firearm upon discharge, or came into contact with an item whose surface bears GSR.”
As it stands now, the two teens are the only suspects, and they will stand trial for first-degree murder. It is tentatively scheduled to begin August 19. Part of the evidence included at that trial will likely be the recovered bullet police believe was fired during the crime, as well as a .22-caliber handgun they discovered submerged in a pond two miles from the crime scene. Both items are being analyzed at a crime lab.
There is a possibility the shooting was part of a gang initiation, an angle the police continue to explore. If that allegation turns out to be true, it would seem that the same charge of “profiling” that Florida prosecutors were allowed to level against George Zimmerman should be part of the mix. But don’t be surprised if such zealous prosecution fails to materialize. Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doerin also revealed that there are additional witnesses out there who may fear coming forward, due to the emotionally charged nature of the case. He asked them to reject that fear in favor of seeing that justice is served.
In the meantime, there have been no marches, candlelight vigils or multi-city rallies led by Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. There have been no $10,000 bounties placed on the boys’ heads, like the one placed on Zimmerman’s head by the New Black Panthers. There have been no cries for justice by the Benjamin Jealous-led NAACP. The DOJ’s Community Relations Service (CRS), a self-described “peacemaking” organization that “does not take sides” in community conflicts about race, has not visited Brunswick, despite reports of racial tensions exacerbated by this case. President Barack Obama has not noted that anyone in this case looks like a son he might have had. He has not offered a single word of condolence to Antonio Santiago’s parents or used the case to lecture Americans about the precarious state of race relations in the nation or the tragic nature of urban crime.
Barring some kind of major bombshell delivered during the trial, most Americans will hear virtually nothing more about this crime. In short, this case has been, and will continue to be, treated as another run-of-the-mill killing allegedly perpetrated by black youths. And much like the killings that occur on a daily basis in the inner cities of Chicago, Detroit or Philadelphia, it will elicit nothing resembling the outpouring of indignation from the self-aggrandizing social moralizers who sought to make George Zimmerman an archetype of racial injustice. Their silence regarding this case is enormously and pathetically revealing.
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