by Tommi Avicolli Mecca
Yesterday, my friend Alison and I arrived at the Main Library here in San Francisco only to find that access was all but blocked by police cars and caution tape. A drama was unfolding. A guy had an assault gun and was threatening to shoot others and/or kill himself.
It was another day in an America that has become synonymous with violence: police shootings of unarmed black men, endless wars in other countries, people going nuts and using shoppers at a mall or kids in a high school as target practice, and movies, TV and video games that don’t just glorify, but downright promote, violence of every sort. It’s the success formula for popular entertainment these days: chase scenes, murders and lots and lots of blood without ever mentioning that there may be another way of handling conflict.
Alison and I were presenting a reading of our musical “a roof over my head,” a satirical and poignant look at our city’s housing crisis that has resulted in new highs in rents (the highest in the country) and new lows in morality, as evidenced by the still ongoing eviction (believe it or not) of a 100-year-old African American woman. Despite what was going on outside, we had a packed house.
The drama had not ended when we left the library hours later. We had a nightmare of a time getting the stools and music stands from the reading into the car of one of the musicians. The guy was still brandishing the gun and a lot of cops were standing around doing nothing. Alison, who is African American, remarked that if the guy had been black, it would have been over within no time at all. The guy would have been dead.
This morning, I received an email from a friend asking me how the reading went. She said that in Seattle where she lives five people were shot at a shopping mall yesterday around the same time we were at the library. Remember the days when you could walk into a mall without taking your life in your hands? Or go to a library reading without being met with caution tape and the boys and girls in blue?
It’s a sad day indeed in this country.
No one but the NRA can possibly believe that the proliferation of weapons and the ease with which people can buy them has benefited this nation. How many more tragedies like Orlando will it take before Congress tells the Second Amendment crowd to shove it?
The mostly millionaire legislators under the dome in D.C. are not known for cojones, especially when it comes to challenging a major lobbyist. But enough is enough.
Unless we want to live the rest of our lives with the uncertainty of whether another black man is going to be shot by the police, or our streets, workplaces, malls or schools are going to be under siege by someone with an easily purchased weapon of mass destruction, then things have seriously got to change.
I just don’t have much hope that they will.