Mass Shootings, Police Shootings, LPD Suspensions were Major Headlines in 2015
While we wish we could share some good cheer to greet the New Year, when looking back at 2015’s top stories, that is somewhat difficult to do since so much violence and disturbing news dominated the national and local headlines.
One of the top stories was the remarkable statistic that up until December 17, 2015, there have been more mass shootings in this country than number of days passed in the year.
According to one major national publication, Vox, there were “more days with a mass shooting than days without a mass shooting”. According to the same publication, 457 people have died from 353 mass shootings in this country in 2015 so far.
And in the face of all of this, gun sales soar higher and higher with each passing shooting event. And Republicans in Congress, including our own District 19 Congressman Neugebauer just sit and do nothing, but continue to serve the interests of the National Rifle Association.
And there are still a few days left in the year, so who knows what could happen still?
Other headlines dealt with presidential politics, in particular Donald Trump, whose campaign rhetoric includes demeaning insults, name calling and threats against immigrants. Sadly, the majority of Republican candidates have managed to create even more divisions and factions within the country .
It is believed that the mass shooting which occurred in San Bernardino, California was motivated by ISIS, which by its simplest definition is a militant terrorist group which uses the religion of Islam as a basis for waging terrorist acts in Syria, Iraq, the Middle East and Europe.
A sad example are the Paris attacks which killed 130 innocent people.
But now, the terrorists have come closer to home, and as one British broadcaster from the BBC said in his newscast the morning after the San Bernardino shootings, “Just another day in the United States of America. Another day of gunfire, panic and fear.”
And that is how life feels sometimes for many people in America.
People involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, young black men, talk about the fear of not living beyond their 30’s. Afraid that they will be shot by police.
While a record number of immigrants have been deported during the Obama administration, as the year comes to a close, thousands are still being held in immigration detention centers, where they languish scared, wondering what is going to happen to them in 2016.
Syrian refugees have to take a leap of faith and leave their homeland, which often turns into a leap of death, as they travel by inadequate water vessels in the Aegean Sea to try and save themselves from the bombs and mass killings in Syria.
In this country, the welcome mat has been pulled inside and the door closed shut to those Syrians trying to find refuge at the inn. Our own Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, has proclaimed that Syrian refugees are not welcome in this state.
In doing so, Abbott has essentially managed to wipe out the Texas’ state motto, which is “Friendly”, by his self serving acts since assuming the governorship in January 2015.
He, along with 30 something other state governors, all Republicans but 1, issued some kind of non binding order saying that Syrian refugees could not live in their respective state.
Ridiculous. They have no such legal power.
On the domestic front, the fear mongering by the likes of Donald Trump, Greg Abbott, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, white supremacists, right wing extremists, and others seems to have done the damage such things are inclined to do.
On June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, a lone shooter, a terrorist, a young white male,
by the name of Dylan Roof, opened fire in the the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, killing nine innocent black human beings, including the Pastor of the church.
While people questioned his motives and his mental state, one thing became clear when looking at his social media history; he seemed to have been influenced by all the vile hatred and racist commentary that is fed to people daily by commentators on FOX News and other white, right wing extremists.
On the local level, we saw what seemed to us to be more crime in our city and neighborhoods. While local police officials would probably disagree with our assessment, it just seems to us that the bigger Lubbock gets, the more the population increases, the more traffic we experience and it seems like the more robberies we see reported. Just this past Saturday the 19th, a woman at local bank’s drive up window was kidnapped, assaulted, and robbed in broad daylight.
And speaking of crime related news, the Lubbock Police Department has been sued by the US Justice Department. The lawsuit is based on the allegations that the city police department has discriminated in the hiring process of its police officers when it comes to hiring Hispanics.
The lawsuit is in its initial stages, but we look forward to the outcome in 2016.
What we also think will dominate local news in 2016, will be city and county political races, especially in the majority Hispanic districts and precincts. But first, one of the most important questions for city residents next year will be about who will fill the Mayor’s seat for the next 2 years?
Current Mayor Glen Robertson has announced that he will not seek reelection and will instead focus on another national race.
Already, former District 3 Councilman Todd Klein has said that he will run for the Mayor’s seat. Also, District 1 Councilman Victor Hernandez has said that he will announce in January whether he will run for the seat. Lubbock ISD President, Dan Pope has also indicated that he will throw his hat in the ring. If Hernandez does run, will that open up both a District 1 and District 2 seat; both majority Hispanic districts?
Whichever way Hernandez goes, it should be an interesting time in Lubbock City Council politics.
On the county level, Precinct 3 Lubbock County Commissioner, Lorenzo “Bubba” Sedeno will face an old political foe in the Democratic Primary. Former Commissioner Gilbert Flores will try to reclaim his old seat once again. Whoever wins that primary, will then face perpetual candidate, Republican Frank Gutierrez in the November General Election. He is expected to be the lone Republican candidate in the March Republican Primary.
On the national political scene, District 19 Congressman Randy Neugebauer announced that he will not seek reelection in November. That has opened the door through which have stepped at least 2 candidates so far. Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson and Jodey Arrington have already announced their intention to run for the seat. Arrington is President of Scott Laboratories of Lubbock.
Throw in the Presidential election, which should come down to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee versus one of the Republican candidates left standing after their primaries, and we can see that the new year will be more than interesting.
As mentioned earlier, the Lubbock Police Department was also under the spotlight not only for its hiring practices, but also for some of it’s officer’s conduct; resulting in 2 separate suspensions.
In one of the incidents, a police officer is caught on videotape beating the daylights out of suspect Jose Escarcega in west Lubbock. While the allegations of police misconduct were initially rebuffed by local officials and an attempt to keep things quiet became fairly obvious, it was through the efforts of District 1 Councilman Victor Hernandez that the issue was pursued.
After an internal police investigation, two officers involved, LPD Sgt. Mike Jordan and officer Tye Edwards were each suspended 16 and 30 days respectively; without pay.
In a second incident, a suspension was also handed out to James Shavers, who was the assistant chief overseeing the Mark Ysasaga case. That case was badly handled from the beginning, and it is troubling to see some of the things that occurred during that entire investigation process. It does tend to plant questions in the general public, about what else is going on, if anything, behind the blue curtain of silence.
However one may feel about the LPD, and there are some good and dedicated police officers who serve our community faithfully, these suspensions and lawsuit involving the police department are troubling.to many people in the community.
Another issue being debated now, is sure to come up often in 2016, and that issue is gun control. Specifically, how to handle the new Texas open carry law.
And we’re not talking alcohol containers here.
When the Texas Legislature passed the open carry gun law this past year, we don’t think they thought out all the issues that could come up related to the law. One major potential problem is how this law will be implemented in and around public schools, at colleges and universities like South Plains and Texas Tech. And down at city hall.
City Manager, James Loomis, has instituted a policy that says that when the law goes into effect in 2016, city employees who are otherwise qualified to carry a weapon in full view, are required to get permission from the city manager to carry a gun out in the open while working, especially in taxpayer owned city vehicles. .
But, Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson disagrees, arguing that all city employees who wish to open carry should be able to do so without having to get any type of clearance from management.
It has also been reported that Councilman Victor Hernandez, who is in favor of the new policy set forth by Loomis, has speculated that Robertson is just trying to solidify the pro gun vote in his race for Congress and not much else.
We’ll see who prevails on this issue in 2016.
On the local good news category, Lubbock’s Hispanic community can now proudly say that they have a functioning Hispanic Cultural Center. One of the accomplishments of 2015 was the opening of the center which is now located at the Canyon Lakes, in what is known as the Landwer House.
Our congratulations to the Fiestas del LLano Organization, its board members, and Councilman Victor Hernandez for shepherding this effort through the process down at city hall.
One of the major highlights of this past year for us, was the visit of Pope Francis to the eastern part of the country in September.
We watched proudly as the Pope became a living example of Christian compassion during his visit with prisoners in a correctional facility in Philadelphia.
The thousands of people he touched and inspired on his trip, will surely remember it forever. At least we hope so.
On a local level, Pope Francis will play the most important role in the selection of a new Bishop for the Lubbock Diocese.
In October, Lubbock Catholic Diocese Bishop, Placido Rodriguez, submitted his resignation to Pope Francis as is required by Canon Law. All Bishops are required to resign when they reach the age of 75.
Bishop Rodriguez has called on all Catholics in the diocese to engage in a year of preparation to welcome a new Bishop. This is also a story which will impact hundreds of thousands of people here in our community. It is not known when Pope Francis will appoint a new Bishop to serve the people of the diocese, but it could come sometime in 2016.
As we close out 2015, perhaps this is a good place to end our yearly review of the past year’s headlines. While the year was not filled with the kind of news we would like to see, we have to be truthful and acknowledge that there are many, many challenges facing not only the country, but the Hispanic community, and each of us personally.
As for us, we will continue to persevere by relying on our chosen Faith, which guides us in our daily struggles. The kind of Faith that provides the extraordinary strength that is required in the world we live in today.
So as we ring in the 2016, our hope and prayer is that we all persevere through the challenges we all face, and that a year from now, we are all here in good health, to welcome in 2017.
Peace and Goodwill to all.
All editorials are solely the opinion of El Editor’s publisher and editorial advisers. Our views do not necessarily represent the views of any of our advertisers or anyone else associated with this newspaper.