The community of Aiken, SC has been rocked by a series of events that most of their citizens have never imagined would happen in their small city, three police officers were murdered in as little as four months. Each officer was killed by a young black male.
The latest cop killing was connected to the murder of a young woman, Cayce Vice, his girlfriend, who was killed during the weekend. In a short time later, an officer, Sandy Rogers, was doing a routine traffic stop when the suspect shot her and escaped. Police found and arrested the suspect hours later. The policewoman died at the hospital.
The suspect, 26-year old Joshua Tremaine Jones, appeared before Judge Donna Williamson for a bond hearing. His behavior was erratic and disturbing according to witnesses. His responses included profanities, shaking, and snarls:
“Do you want to be screened for an attorney?’ asked Judge Williamson.
‘I don’t care!’ Jones yelled back, grunting several times afterwards.
After mouthing profanities to the few reporters in the room, he cursed at the judge, too.
‘Do you have the income to hire an attorney on your own?’ she asked him.
‘Does it look like it? G** d******!’ Jones answered back.”
Several news reports have included interviews with Jones’ father James. From his words, we learn that this young man has been suffering from mental illness. It is further revealed that Jones has had a very troubled past:
“He pleaded guilty in 2009 to weapons charges and served 108 days in the Aiken County Detention Center. Just last year, he was charged with giving false information and carrying a concealed weapon. His father says he shot himself in the head last year and said son stabbed him 10 years ago. Jones was 16 years old at the time.”
James states that his son was seeking mental treatment at Aurora Behavioral Health, but was released under his care after only a month. But it gets worse. The younger Jones was a victim of a crime himself:
“On March 2, 2011, he was reportedly beaten severely, suffering lacerations on the right side of his face.
Doctors at the trauma center in Georgia said Jones was being treated for internal bleeding.
James Jones said he doesn’t understand how or why his son has survived after having had so many brushes with death.”
On February 1 the two women were laid to rest. Jones’ next court appearance is March 9.
Before I comment on this calamity, I want to say that I do not condone what has happen in Aiken during the last four months. I do not support violence on anyone, nor do I excuse it. As always, this is part of a larger problem in this country, a problem this society refuses to fix.
However, as always there has to be reasons behind this event and possibly all others that end in murder. So far, after checking out this story and watching the bond hearing, this young man has had a fucked up life.
Already people are saying that the video of the hearing was an act. (It does look unbelievable.) They think Jones is trying to establish an insanity defense so he wouldn’t get the death penalty. And you know when a black man kills a white person that capital punishment will likely happen.
Nevertheless, if this wasn’t an charade, one can not rule out that this young man had life kick the hell outta him. He dropped out of high school. He stabbed his own father. He tried to kill himself. He was assaulted and left for serious injuries. And he was arrested numerous times. It’s a sure bet that a lot of people failed him in his life including the mental health facility.
Jones was obviously suffering mentally during his younger years. His parents were aware of it, and they hoped that Aurora would help him. But it looks like they were shortchanged. Someone who stabbed his own dad and tried to kill himself should’ve been kept longer than a mere month. Unless, their treatments are speedy. This is not the case.
We don’t know how Jones was treated at home during his upbringing. That could also be a huge factor. Why did he attack his father? Why did he try to shoot himself in the head? Something was not going right for this young man and it probably started in the home and(or) his neighborhood, and instead of giving him the help he needed, he was virtually screwed, and as a result three lives were lost including his own.
The possibility of black people suffering from mental illness is a great taboo in their communities. There is a perceived shame associated with it, not to mention it is believed to be “the work of the devil” and only “the Blood of Christ” can save those who are suffering.
The treatment for such illnesses are too expensive for many poor blacks who desperately need it. And the treatment and remedies they can afford is second rate. Not only that, most white doctors already discerned negative stereotypes about their black patients, and they know little about their circumstances. Thus, their help falls extremely short.
Black youth, especially males, are struggling in the streets, and it should surprise no one that they are suffering mentally. From finding ways to eat even if it risked going to jail to protecting themselves from other lost youth and corrupted cops, each moment where “freedom” and life itself is risked can have a traumatic influence. Young black men with turbulent lives are taking the brunt of this reality, and it is more than clear that if they are dealt more blows to their spirits, someone will pay the ultimate price: death.
Black males deprived of humanity are poor (financially and emotionally), inheriting less-than-adequate education, can not get meaningful employment, and have to face the wrath of cops on a constant basis. At the end of the day they see no hope or no future. Their esteem is fragile enough to destroy lives if their spirits get broken. It’s not right that they should go that route, but neither are the many injustices done against them by a dysfunctional society and the selfish older generation that ignores them.
As far as the events in Aiken are concerned young black men robbing and killing each other is nothing new nor does it appear much of a burden for the city. But, the deaths of police officers are all of a sudden causes for community concern and grief.
Where was the same concern when Joshua Jones dropped out of school? Where was the same concern when he tried to kill himself? Where was the same concern when he almost died in a vicious beating? The neglect and violence that he suffered came back tenfold. The whole community of Aiken should’ve done better and maybe – just maybe the lives of the people murdered would still be alive today.
The murders of the police officers will no doubt sour race relations in the city if it hasn’t already been rotten. Aiken is located in South Carolina, one of the most racist states of the union. More police will likely be the answer for this chaos, and racial tension will surge.
Still, in the end the city must ask itself this question, does it truly care about its youth…all of its youth?