Today, another Suffolk mother mourns the loss of a teenaged son. Today, another Suffolk family prepares to bury a young man taken from them before he had a chance to even attempt to reach his goals. Today, a school community stops to ponder what causes so many of its youth to find themselves in the midst of violent incidents, whether sought out or not. Today, a city struggles to hold back the fear that things have gone out of control for its young people.
Today, in the wake of the murder Sunday morning of 18-year-old rising senior and Lakeland High School football standout Tyquan Lewis, a people must ask themselves whether they are satisfied with the path they are on or whether it is yet time to stand up and shout, “Enough!” to the violence and crime that subjugate and devastate their children.
Today, as one group of Suffolk citizens mourns the murder of a young man who should have been just getting ready to step out onto the world’s stage, another group prepares a celebration of law and order. As the friends and family of Tyquan Lewis gather to comfort one another, hundreds of people throughout the city will gather to show their support of National Night Out, a program designed to help foster ties between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.
Today, grief will be a part of the background behind each of Suffolk’s 60 National Night Out celebrations. It will inform every speech that is made in support of peaceful, safe communities where residents feel empowered to be a part of the crime-fighting formula. And it will subdue some of the celebratory activities. It will even cause some to wonder whether Suffolk is destined to lose its fight against the forces that seek to enslave a generation of youth.
Today, the grief is appropriate. Today, it is right to ask the questions. Today, parents should remind their teenaged sons and daughters that evil does not have to win, as long as good people refuse to stand by and let it. Today, teachers and school administrators should commit themselves to teaching their young charges the value of nonviolent conflict resolution — the value, even, of walking away from a fight when walking away might look like losing face.
Today, most importantly, Suffolk must take a stand against the cancer that afflicts its youth. Today, citizens and parents and police and youth must resolve that no more young lives will be so senselessly cut short. Today, not tomorrow.