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The Real Faces Of Death

When I was a kid, there was a VHS tape you could rent from the video store (a video store is like Youtube but you had to actually go there and get a physical video tape, and heaven help you if you forgot to rewind it) titled Faces of Death. It was basically a “real life” horror movie showing scenes of humans dying, eating the brains of live monkeys and stuff like that. We rented it a few times when I was in high school for the shock value and watched it in between grainy VHS tapes of Fast Times At Ridgemont High and Animal House, really anything with boobs.

A lot of Faces Of Death was staged or re-enacted and it was really pretty unpleasant to watch but we watched anyway because no one in 7th grade wants to seem like a sissy, at least back then. Now been a sissy/fairy/queer is apparently the only way to be cool in school. The reason this movie came back to mind today was the all too frequent photos of killers we see from the media on a daily basis.

This picture popped up on our local news.

L to R: Rodreice Anderson, Cameron Banks, Desmond Banks, Lasean Watkins

These charming fellas were arrested for the murder of three men and a woman earlier in February in Indianapolis. It has all the marks of a targeted assassination and/or robbery and the four people killed all appear to be black. The lack of remorse in these pictures is chilling. Three of the young men pictured are 19 and one, Desmond Banks, is 17. They are faced with spending most of the rest of their lives in prison.

They are far from alone.

The final arrest was made in the murder of Tessa Majors. The killers of Tessa were three very young black kids, 14 year old Luchiano Lewis, 14 year old Rashaun Weaver and 13 year old Zyairr Davis. There doesn’t appear to be a picture available of Davis but the other two are shown heading to court.

Luchiano Lewis

Rashaun Weaver

I have a 14 year old son, my youngest boy, and neither he nor his brothers when they were that age could have even contemplated stabbing a small girl to death for resisting a robbery. My older boys have never even had so much as a speeding ticket and are in school or gainfully employed. Meanwhile these three boys are facing years in prison and on release will almost certainly rejoin the community of career criminals without hesitation. Shooting someone can be a spur of the moment thing but to stab a young woman to death is indicative of an inhuman disregard for life. I can shoot you from 20 yards away but to stab someone you have to be up close and personal, in physical contact with your victim.

The faces of death in America are all too predictable: a teen or 20-something black male who as often as not already has an extensive criminal past and used an illegal gun, staring at the camera in his arrest photo without an ounce of shame or remorse.

The longer we pretend that the real problem in America is “racism” and “sentencing disparity” rather than a community that has lost all pretense of control over their young men, the names will change but the faces in the media glowering in their mugshots will remain the same.

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