I wish I could be joining you with better news on this day, but unfortunately I cannot. Yesterday, as I first learned from the news agency Daily Voice Nassau, and later saw repeated on sites like NBC 4 New York, a drive-by shooting took place at a house party located on Babylon Turnpike.
Four children were shot.
I want to start by offering my best wishes to these wounded children, along with my wishes for anyone who was present at the tragedy. I don't know their physical condition, as the NBC 4 article notes that their condition wasn't known at the time of publication, states that they were expected to survive. That is good news.
I hope these are relatively minor injuries, and that they can and will make a full recovery. As bad as that still is, things are not going to be so easy as simply healing from wounds. I know they - and all those who were present - are suffering psychological trauma. There's no escaping that, but it's still horrific to consider.
The Positive Response
Overall, the community response has been one of horror and support. I've seen many a Facebook post about how tragic this is, and how they wish for the victims to recover. That lightens my heart. Moreover, after reading what someone related to a victim said (I'm only mentioning this because it's a public forum), that one victim is doing okay. Just knowing that is a huge relief, and we again wish him a full and speedy recovery.
Again, on the whole, most people have condemned the violence, cheered on the victims' recovery, offered updates about those they are close to, and called out for what little excuse there is standing in for justice in such a horrible crime. True justice would be that this never happened, but that's impossible, so all we have left is pain and preventing this from happening again.
But not everyone has handled this gracefully, and I feel there's no getting around the need to point out that some people are saying insensitive (at best)
I can always rely on the majority of Freeport and its neighboring communities to get things right in times of crisis, and I take heart from that.
However, not everyone has handled this situation appropriately.
I will be pointing out two comments, both of which were unacceptable, and both of which shall remain nameless because their authors do not deserve credit, and because I am not interested in creating internet brigades. One is, in my opinion, suggestive of racism. One is suggestive of attempting to make an unacceptable political point in an election season off of of dishonestly representing the law.
It's also my understanding that both of these commenters are either from outside of the Freeport community (with no clear evidence they've ever spent time, here), or are no longer even so much as in geographical proximity of the community. In other words, it's easy for them to talk when it's not at all related to them.
The first was as follows:
I'm just gonna be honest: Best case is that this is a projection of insensitivity, or maybe some kind of crude attempt to be an edge-lord. Worst case (which is where my mind happens to go, these days) is that this is deliberately racist. There's no expression of contrition, there's no giving a damn about how the kids are. "No crime in the Hood" right? To my mind: I'm sure that thought might be followed by, "And we all know who lives in the Hood." Also implied is, "We don't care about the Hood, or the kids that were shot."
We should rise above this pettiness.
Another post I saw that was distressing was a deliberate attempt at politicizing these childrens' suffering by ranting about New York State's bail reform law under false pretenses.
This is a lie.
According to the Brennan Center, a non-partisan law and policy institute, they write:
Very clearly, at least according to this analysis done by legal-world professionals, violent felonies are still bail-worthy offenses. Now, the fact is that if this person has the money and/or means to get it from a bondsman, they can just pay bail and get out just like it was before bail reform was initiated
. But a judge can absolutely order them detained on bail.
Hell, for four counts of attempted murder, I would not be surprised if they were remanded without bail as an option.
I also noticed that, since the man brought up politics, he didn't talk about New York's actual, real laudable attempts to take illegal guns off the streets. Because New York has been trying to keep gun violence low, and overall has a fairly low incidence of gun violence to begin with compared to other states. Now, I might imagine some other things this person might believe about firearms, but I won't get into those.
So In Conclusion...
If you're one of the two people I mentioned, or if you're just someone who liked one of their posts: Be better than this, especially if you left the town a long time ago and never looked back, or if you never lived here to begin with.
The rest of Freeport is carrying on with solidarity and love for those who were hurt, and with an eye intent on preventing another tragedy like this from ever happening.
May such lofty hopes come true.
Thank you for reading. Jesse Pohlman is the editor-in-chief of The Weekly Freeporter, and spent his first thirty years living in Freeport. He still visits the community regularly (imminently after publishing this, in fact), with the intent to live there once again when all affairs are settled.