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Op-ed: What about murdered American teens?

First Published Jul 10 2014 06:50 am • Last Updated Jul 10 2014 04:47 pm
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Last week, the bodies of three Israeli teenagers who had been abducted and shot to death while hitchhiking were found in a field near Hebron. While Israel mourned their deaths, leaders in the United States offered their condolences and prayers. Senators and members of Congress took to Twitter and Facebook to mourn the deaths and to reaffirm their support for Israel. The boys’ names were reported nationally, and cable news extensively covered the incident. The president issued a statement.

The day the bodies were found, 17-year-old Michael Patton of Chicago was shot to death on the street a block from his home.

One day earlier, 17-year-old Cheyanne Bond, a cheerleader and recent high school graduate, was shot and killed in Newark, New Jersey.

Two days before that, 17-year-old Samuel Ramirez was murdered in East Los Angeles.

There was no national coverage of these murders. No one took to the airwaves to call for swift justice for their killers. No members of Congress tweeted their names. No senators have taken to Facebook to express how brokenhearted they are over their deaths. The president did not release statements.

To be sure, the situation in Israel involves complicated political dynamics, ethnic and religious tensions and allegations that a militant Palestinian political organization carried out the killings. We have seen these crimes reverberate over the past two weeks in increased strain and new violence.

But the lack of complexity behind the murders of Michael Patton, Cheyanne Bond and Samuel Ramirez right here in the United States should not make them any less worthy of our attention. Rather, it should be more concerning that young people are killed every week on our streets, not at the hands of militants or extremists but by their peers. It should be concerning that they were shot not with weapons procured through transnational terrorist networks or funded by rogue nations but, in all likelihood, by guns that illegally ended up in the hands of teenage kids. It should be concerning that this happens daily across the country.

And it should be concerning that no one seems to care.

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