What’s haunting me today is the thought of the 10 year old boy in Riverside that shot his Nazi-father in the head while he was sleeping. Grabs the ‘family’ Rossi .357 Magnum and pops the old man. No, I don’t condone shooting one’s father. The kid though, from the court-filed documents and newspaper reports, said his Nazi father routinely beat him, according to the testimony of the stepmother. He also beat the ‘mother’, although it isn’t clear if this is the stepmother or his actual birth mother. The boy was worried that his Dad was cheating on his Mom and worried about which one he’d be living with if they split up.
In recent days and weeks that we’ve had reports of Osama bin Laden’s shooting, Schwarzenegger’s love child, the saga of the Dodgers and the messy financial scams the McCourts have been running, yet this child killing his father has haunted me. From the television show I produced for KTVU-2, to this day, I’ve struggled to come to grips with this hateful California Nazi movement. It just won’t go away. I remember being shocked at the film and audio of families in California back in the late 70’s preaching hate towards non-white peoples. That was then. Things haven’t changed much, it seems. If anything, the hate has grown, with border violence in Mexico and drug Narcos killing over 30-thousand Mexicans on the south side of the border. Seems now, there’s more fuel to that hate fire.
Newspaper reports in the Los Angeles Times say the Nazi killed in Riverside lived in a filthy house, bedrooms smelling like urine, pig-sty bathrooms, empty beer cans thrown on the floor under a Swastika flag. Beatings, child humiliation, fear. The kid pulls out the piece and murders his father. He’s ten years old. Ten years old. How much fear and hate did that kid have? How much did he learn from his father? The amount of pain that kid must have felt that he’d take his own father’s life, is just stunning, unimaginable.
There’s no telling how this will play out in court, in the child protection services, in the discussions of California gun control. The step-mother has been charged with child endangerment and failure to properly store a firearm. I know that there is law requiring proper safety and locked storage of weapons if there are children living in the home. You can take your child to the shooting range and teach gun safety and shooting, that’s fine. You also, under California law, are required to lock weapons in some pretty specific ways.
The Times has done a good job reporting child abuse and neglect in Los Angeles County and has done several reports calling out the services for failure to provide protection to children when it was urgent, and necessary. The Times articles ultimately led to the dismissal of the head of the L.A. County child services agency. Cases were stacked up, calls for help from at-risk children either were not followed up or taken seriously, or dealt with in time to prevent tragedy and death. But this case in Riverside County has the unique angle of a child shooting his abusive father, and the father espousing hateful views with his leadership in this noxious clan of Nazis.
In the end, it’s a horrific story of the pain of a small boy. The pain and humiliation, and fear of his own father, led him to stop the pain the only way he knew how. By killing it. Ten year old boys can’t run away. Maybe he feared if he’d turn to his real mother, the father would find him and abuse him in worse fashion, and maybe the mother, too. That kind of fear, hopelessness, despair, is something we as a society should not accept for any child. There are supposed to be public agencies in charge of insuring that these kinds of abuse are prevented. Me, I’m not a big supporter of governmental controls and regulations, bureaucracies. Police and fire, roads and sewers, the basics of civic infrastructure. Schools. And protecting kids. That’s not too much to ask. Insuring that all of our children have safe, protected home lives is not too much to ask, and I would support an increase in protective services, providing the public is insured that there is efficient use of funds, not bound up in red tape.
Perhaps this Greek Tragedy of Shakespearian proportions will provide a lesson to society. Not just the elimination and intolerance of hate groups, although their right of free speech shall remain, but the reflection of the greater society that these hate messages will not stand, will not endure. And children must be protected, and given full access to the safe harbor of public support and an ease with which to access these services, at all times of the day. There is no greater public interest. There is no more noble goal. The pain and the consequences, the blood that is spilled is on all of us. And that, I can’t tolerate.