By Chris Ingram
The Tampa Tribune, February 20, 2014
“It’s a 14-year-old. It’s a tragedy.”
“This isn’t a matter of race; it’s a matter of solving a problem.”
Those two comments from Col. James Previtera of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office succinctly sum up the issue of “wilding,” which came to the public’s attention after the death of 14-year-old honor student Andrew Joseph III.
By most accounts, Joseph was not only an honor student, but a good kid from an intact, middle-class family. Hardly the stereotype of a thuggish youth with a dad in jail and a mom on welfare.
Although Previtera is correct that this isn’t a matter of race — it’s a matter of parenting and teaching kids to respect others — race is part of this story because 108 of the 111 kids who were arrested or ejected from the Florida State Fairgrounds were black.
What this whole incident has shown is that even seemingly good kids with presumably good parents — white, black or other — can make bad decisions. There are a host of other lessons to be learned by the fair authority, law enforcement, the schools, parents and students.
In response to the wilding incident, the fair authority now requires an adult to be present with any minor coming to the fair on Student Day with free admission, if they arrive after 7 p.m. There may be sound logic for this, but it seems curious given the sheriff’s office said the “crowd arrived shortly before 6 p.m.” on Friday of that week.
And what is to keep kids who arrive early from sticking around without a parent? Will the fair remove all patrons before 7 before letting kids with a free ticket back in only with an adult?
I have a few better ideas. (Click here to go directly to the column in today’s Tampa Tribune.)
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Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of Irreverent View. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online. He is the Republican political analyst for Bay News 9, the only 24 hour all news channel in Florida’s largest media market. The opinions expressed here are those of author and do not represent the views of Bay News 9. E-mail him at: Chris@IrreverentView.com.
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