It's the best day of his life.
To a normal person, being charged with murder would be devastating.
For him, it's the pinnacle of his world .
Especially since, as you'll see, he stands every chance of beating the rap. He'll be coming back to his 'hood with unparallelled street cred. He will be a prince of the city.
That's the way it is in the thug life culture.
Our sixteen-year-old, charged with killing a man by bashing his head with a baseball bat on Euclid Avenue just off Main Street, is just the latest to graduate from bluster to bloodshed. And you can bet he won't be the last.
Like his contemporaries, he's got a page on Bebo, the internet social networking site. It's illustrated with a panoramic night photo of Winnipeg, (note to Destination Winnipeg - it highlights the new Provencher bridge). Floating over top are the words MURDA CAP, the street gang boast of Winnipeg as the murder capital of Canada.
On his page he describes himself:
Ima Muthafukkin Ganxsta Best Believe It
A REAL MUTHAFUCKIN GANGSTA FROM THE PEG-CITY 204 THE REALEST CITY OUT THERE
He proudly displays Manitoba Warriors colours.
His preference in music? Str8 Ganxsta Shit
Movies? Mafia flix
See the pattern. His life is defined by the the world of the street gang whose conventions involve partying, talking about partying, listening to gangster rap, smoking dope, drinking till you pass out, selling drugs, owning guns, and constant immersion in violent images---threats, boasts, challenges, and the resulting street fights.
Winnipeg thug life has added ramming police cars and running down police on foot.
Among Sixteen's Bebo friends is Justin C. whose own profile reflects the escalation (emphasis added):
Sports FOOTBALL.HUSTLEING.RUNNING FROM THE POLICE
He's Happiest When I SMOKE DAT BLUNT SEE MY DAUGHTER A COP DIES.
Five months ago, Sixteen predicted his current circumstance in a rap he posted on his page. Here's an excerpt (emphasis ours):
YO U WANNA GO
2 ON 2
HOW BOUT U
BRING YOUR FUCKIN SET
AND WE GO CREW ON CREW
MY BOY'S COME DOWN STRAPPED UP
VEST UP HOLDEN THEM TECK'S UP
U BITCHEZ GONNA GET CHECK UP'S
U KNOW I'M BACK ON THE BLOCK COCK
AND I AIM SPITTIN MY GAME
BRINGIN THE PAIN
YOU BITCHEZ GONNA REMEMBER MY NAME
J TO THE A TO THE C O B
WITCH ONE OF U MUTHAFUCKAS WANNA FUCK WIHT ME
ALL LEAVE YOU DEAD IN THE STREET
WRAPPED UPIN SUM BLOODY SHEETS
THAT' HOW IT IS
I DONT PLAY
YOU BITCHEZ BETTER GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY
His every thought, his every action, his every acquaintance is filtered through the lens of the gang.
If he was in a cult, social workers would say he was being brainwashed and needed to be deprogrammed even if it was against his will.
But because he's a criminal, and a juvenile, he's allowed to play out his violent gang fantasies even to their inevitable conclusion.
He knows he holds the winning hand. He may be charged with second degree murder because the man he attacked later died in hospital, but don't expect a conviction.
He will argue the man left the scene on his own power and walked to Flora Avenue where he collapsed. Or was abandoned by a companion. He may have lived if he had waited for an ambulance. Or had gone to a hospital fast enough.
The murder charge will be plea bargained down to the original charge of aggravated assault.
Judge Ron Meyers has set the value of a life in Manitoba to one day in jail. What's aggravated assault worth? A half day? A couple of hours?
Given the love of Manitoba judges for double time, Sixteen will be home for Christmas, home to a rousing welcome by his gang buddies for whom a murder charge is the equivalent of an Oscar.
We are hearing a steady chorus of bleeding hearts calling for a holistic approach to gangs. Why won't any of the mainstream media point out that that's old news.
The NDP adopted a holistic approach to gangs nine years ago.
Let us quote from Hansard, April 15, 2004. NDP MLA Greg Dewar of Selkirk is speaking. (We've highlighted a few of the more relevant passages.)
"As I said, Manitoba in 1999 needed a change. They needed a different approach to crime, a vision for greater public safety. As a government we believe that you need not only to address the crime itself, which we have done, but as well deal with the very roots of crime. During our first mandate our government strategy had five components: enforcement, provincial law, community partnerships for prevention, victim-centred justice, and Aboriginal and community justice.
Mr. Speaker, our first budget, funding to police in this province rose to unprecedented levels. New RCMP funding helped enable the force to reach full complement in rural and northern areas for the first time in over a decade. I think the members opposite should be recognizing that in their comments.
The Member for Lac du Bonnet (Mr. Hawranik) I am certain probably overlooked that when he gave his introduction to this bill. In Beausejour, in Lac du Bonnet, Pine Falls, in Selkirk and Stonewall, all these communities and northern and rural Manitoba, for the first time in over a decade the RCMP has a full complement of members. I think that is something again that our Government should be proud of and the members opposite should recognize.
As well, we have added 20 more police officers to the current RCMP mobile strike force to fight crime outbreaks throughout the province. We set up a 32-person criminal organization and high-risk offender unit. I am pleased that the member for Southwood has just recognized the fine work of our Government and offered up some congratulations to me. I will just pass his congratulations on to all my colleagues. I thank him for offering that up.
As well, we have ordered an independent review of the prosecution service to be followed with a 58% increase to resources to establish a 10-person special prosecution team to target criminal organizations. Manitoba is now one of the toughest provinces in which to get bail for criminal offences.
We believe not only that there should be strong sanctions for criminal activity, we also believe that it is important to keep young people away, to keep youth away from the downward spiral of crime through community supports. I could go on. There is quite a list of achievements in that regard. I will just highlight a couple: Neighbourhoods Alive!, Healthy Child Manitoba, Lighthouses.
I believe the Member for Elmwood (Mr. Maloway) has a Lighthouse in his riding. I am sure he will be eager to expand on that when he has the opportunity to speak to this bill, as did many of my colleagues over here on this side in government.
As I said, there is a Project Gangproof, there is the police and school initiative, there is the Safety Aid Program, and, as I have said, there is a vast list of them, but I do not want to take up all of my time on this. I know, again, several of my colleagues are eager to expand upon some of these wonderful things which we have done in this province.
We believe, Mr. Speaker, that we should have a holistic approach to organized crime, not like the Tories, who simply would build this big courthouse in Southdale, or south Winnipeg, which now sits vacant, a waste of valuable tax dollars. Instead of them wasting $3.5 million on a courthouse which is now vacant, we decided to bring, for the first time in the history of the province, a full complement of RCMP officers to rule in northern Manitoba. So that is their approach. Their approach is to waste money on a courthouse.
Our approach is to make sure that the complement of RCMP is full in rural and northern Manitoba as well as to develop strategies to deal with the crime itself, not just punishment. We also believe there has to be an approach taken to deal with the roots of crime. That is the difference between this Government and the former Conservative government."
How's that holistic thing worked out?