There’s the savage beating death of World War II veteran Delbert Belton, 88, in Spokane, Wash. Police said two black male teens assaulted Belton in a parking lot outside a pool hall in what was labeled a random attack as he waited for a friend. Belton had survived the Battle of Okinawa, where he was wounded in the leg and kept fighting, but the veteran, described by a friend as “a wonderful angel,” who was always there when needed, could not survive a vicious beating that came out of nowhere in his hometown.
Similarly, 22-year-old Australian baseball player Christopher Lane, a student at East Central University in Oklahoma, was jogging when he was gunned down by two black teens and one white teen who were driving past him, said police in what they called a random shooting. Police said the three youths, ages 15, 16 and 17, were “bored” and “wanted to see someone die.” After they were arrested and charged in the case, the DA’s office said “evidence is insufficient to establish that race was the primary motive” in the killing although tweets from one of the suspects expressed hate for white people.
Here in Cobb, four black teenagers have been charged in the beating death of Joshua Heath Chellew, 36, of Mableton in early July. The charges include murder and violation of the Georgia Street Gang Act. The warrant says the four started a fight with Chellew at a Mableton Parkway gas station, then repeatedly punched and kicked him. Trying to escape, Chellew backed into the highway, was pushed down and knocked unconscious, the warrant says, and the attackers walked away, “leaving him helpless,” and he was later struck by a car and died.
And in a Cobb courtroom, the trial of the suspected Brunswick baby killer is underway, moved here in a change of venue. In this case, 13-month-old Antonio Santiago was shot to death sitting in his stroller as his mother returned with him from the post office in Brunswick last March. An 18-year-old black youth, De’Marquise Elkins, is on trial, charged with shooting the baby point-blank during an attempt to rob his mother.
There’s a very alarming pattern in these cases, starting with the total disregard for human life, and the racial element cannot be ignored. What’s behind these killings seemingly ranges from “boredom” to possible gang-related motivations to robbery.
Regardless, this is a time that cries out for moral leadership from those who claim the role of leaders — from parents or guardians and relatives to the community, the church, social service agencies and the White House. Surely, the president could take time to take notice of what’s happening, condemn such killings and call on leaders to lead, starting with his attorney general as well as parents, the community, the church and social service agencies.
Repeat: This is a time for leaders to lead.