Skip to main content

The Symbolism Response -- Writer's Poke #445

Murders are rare in Rochester, Minnesota. To my knowledge, only one has occurred in the past two years, and it took place in my neighborhood – about a ½ mile from my front door.

My neighborhood loops in a circle, and the backside of the circle is a crappy road surrounded on both sides by brush and woods. A few houses sprinkle these woods, but it’s basically an isolated spot.

Sometimes in the summers, we’ll walk the loop. I’m not paranoid, but every time I walk this section – even before the murder – I find myself wondering what I’d do if a car drove up, and the occupants inside started to mess with me. Would I stand and fight? Would I try to flee into the brush? Or would I just stand and wait to see my fate?

I feel safe where I live, but I try to be conscious of my surroundings at all times. When the young man was murdered – apparently the victim of a drug-related crime – no police officers swept our neighborhood looking for the suspects. In fact, we noticed no additional level of police presence in our neighborhood whatsoever. If I hadn’t happened upon a newspaper that week, I might never even have known that a murder had taken place.

Stories like the Rochester murder aren’t heavily reported. Reporters from CNN don’t stand next to the memorial and report live from the scene where the victim was “brutally and senselessly murdered.” No one shares pictures of the victim on facebook.

I don’t know why some crimes should be treated differently than others. Some crimes seem to take on symbolic value, and the criminals behind such crimes apparently commit their acts out of a knowledge that symbolism matters. It will get the attention of the masses. It will be labeled “senseless” and so on, as if a crime with a motive behind it is any less horrible.

Some American cities experience scores, if not hundreds, of murders every year. Never have I heard of such a city being placed on “lockdown” so that police can find the killers, and yet it’s a safe bet that most of these urban killers live in the same neighborhoods as the people they’ve killed. What makes the lives of these urban victims – or the victim of the young man killed in Rochester – any less valuable to police and media attention? Since when should the symbolism behind the crime count for more than the crime’s substance?

What is the appropriate police response to a criminal act? Should symbolic acts of violence elicit a greater police response?

“The toilets at a local police station have been stolen. Police say they have nothing to go on.” – Ronnie Baker


  1. I found myself watching Fox News this morning. There was a "Star Trek 2-esque" flashing RED ALERT sign at the bottom. There's swirling colors in the background. There are flashing images racing across.

    And then in the foreground, the screen was blocked into 3 parts, with the majority of it showing some street in a Boston suburb, awaiting the governor to make some comments. It was just then I noticed a column of police marching on the street. They were't the black-clad officers, just regular police, marching in lock-step.. except it was poorly executed. Like it was thought of at the spur of the moment.

    And I thought of the numerous slayings in Chicago this weekend. Why no police marching there? Or why no storm troopers marching in Iraq where 50 were killed?

    And then the governor says, in effect, Boston was quarantined. Stay home. Don't make us declare martial law. Voluntarily comply.

    Even the Fox News peple afterwards said, "Well people in Boston aren't really at risk. But anyway, obey because the government says to. Seig heil!"

    I'm paraphrasing.

    Could it be programming? Social engineering? We are scared, so police marching back and forth in front of cameras makes us feel better?

    And no, I'm not saying this was a false flag or a weird conspiracy. I, like you, find the public response disproportionate. I also find it chilling.

  2. I have no answer to your questions. But I do think an additional question is to the point. Does an action that is intended, or apparently intended, to disrupt the peace and conscious safety of a large group of people merit more attention than and action that can easily go unnoticed?


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog