Monday, October 01, 2012

Bobby Tillman's Murderer Tracen Franklin Sentenced to Life Without Parole

18 year-old Bobby Tillman, the victim of a savage beating.
For my money Pulitzer Prize-winner Cynthia Tucker is one of the most insightful journalists/commentators in the business.

A syndicated writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, I first heard her as a semi-regular color commentator on the PBS Newshour who always brought a succinct and highly-principled perspective to discussions on a range of domestic and international issues.

On Saturday Tucker wrote a column about the aftermath of the murder of 18 year-old Bobby Tillman that opened my eyes to a horrifying case of violence that highlights the tragedy of one of the most insidious problems afflicting the African-American community (and indeed, America); senseless black-on-black crime.

This particular travesty had nothing to do with gang violence or a marginalized inner-city community.

Tillman, a college student who aspired to be a sports agent, was outside a crowded teenage party in the suburbs of Atlanta almost two years ago when a group of four African-Americans led and spurred on by Tracen Franklin, attacked Tillman and viciously stomped and beat him to death in a heinous crime that shocked the nation.

One of the saddest things about this incident, and a factor that is all too common among violent black-on-black crime, the attackers didn't even know Tillman; they were just angry and feeling "dissed" after one of the four were struck by a female guest during the party. Apparently feeling the need to vent their sense of inadequacy, they made the ill-fated decision to take it out on an innocent victim who happened to be Tillman.

Last Friday Franklin was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Franklin's accomplices Emanuel Boykins, 30 will serve life with a possibility of parole in 30 years and the other two charged, Quantez Devonta Mallory and Horace Damon Coleman are also facing pending charges of murder.

And so it continues. Tillman's death did draw national attention, but I know I'm not alone in wondering when crimes like the killing of Bobby Tillman draws the same sense of national outrage amongst African-Americans that the shooting of Travon Martin by a non-African-American did. Seems as if there's too much of a complacency for the former that black Americans especially, from all walks of life, must take a greater collective responsibility for.

Let's be honest about the deeper racial component of this case; if four white teens had killed Bobby Tillman after a party in Georgia black folks would still be marching. I don't mean to sound cynical or in any way make light of Tillman's death, I'm just tired of young black men preying on each other like it's some kind of insane race to see who can devalue life the fastest.

Looking at the statistics alone, one might think young African-Americans had declared some kind of sick cultural jihad on each other. According to the Bureau of Justice, (thanks to between 1976 and 2011 there were 279,384 African-American murder victims. Given that 93-94% of blacks are murdered by other blacks, 262,621 black people were murdered by people of their own race between 1976-2011. Bobby Tillman's death is more than a sickening tragedy, it's a startling statistical reality in America that can't just be blamed on the media.

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