Dear Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer:
I'm your gang problem. Why are you ignoring me?
No matter how far east or northwest you move; no matter how high you build the walls around your gated community; no matter how relentlessly you have law enforcement crack down on me, I persevere.
Well, you've ignored me at your own peril.
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For example, I've already got a lot of your children. They listen to my music. They use my language. They wear their pants below their butts like me. They turn their baseball caps sideways. They cover their bodies with tattoos.
I've got you, too.
You've been lucky to have dodged the bullets I've already rained on this community, but imagine the potential cost of just one of those bullets.
About nine years ago, a bullet I fired during a drive-by shooting here traveled through a porch post, through walls, through a couch and killed Lexus Mathis, a 16-month-old child sleeping on that couch.
Apparently, that wasn't tragic enough.
So since the human costs don't seem to matter to you, I'm guessing money does.
The Eagle reported 15 years ago next month that a single, 30-cent bullet in a run-of-the-mill shooting could cost taxpayers $883,977.24.
Reporters found that when I'm arrested, investigated, tried and imprisoned, I'm draining the budget. When I shoot someone without insurance, slicing his spine and placing him in expensive physical therapy, I'm in your pocket that much deeper.
That big number, by the way, doesn't include the costs for the kids I leave behind for you to raise or for their food and medical care when they follow me to prison, as many of them will.
I'm burying you in debt while you whistle through the graveyard I'm filling up.
I kill in bunches, and I'm not just talking about bodies. I destroy hopes and dreams. I kill spirits. I teach fear.
I noticed people screaming bloody murder last summer about health care.
I'm curious to see what they'll have to say this summer about all of the actual bloody murder I'll be responsible for.
Probably nothing, and that's OK.
With your silence, you're giving me all the help I need.
Yours until you decide differently,
Your gang problem.