The Evans Family: The Next Generation?

Last night John wrote about the murderous gang assault on a father who was protecting his 12-year-old daughter as the family was leaving the grounds of the Valleyfair amusement park in Shakopee, Minnesota. The assailants knocked the girl’s father to the ground and took turns stomping on his head.

The Star Tribune has no follow-up story in today’s paper or online tonight. Instead of more information on the story, the Star Tribune provides an editorial instructing us in the appropriate attitude to take in connection with the assault:

Six young men and one juvenile are accused of taking turns kicking the victim in the head until he was unconscious. The group jumped him after he yelled at them for groping his 12-year-old daughter. Witnesses said some of the attackers punched others randomly as they left the park.

In the big picture, such brutal attacks are relatively rare. Still, that is small consolation to citizens who feel barraged by stories about beaten bus drivers, random shootings and people killed or injured in their homes.

The seven now charged with the vicious assault include one 14-year-old boy and men ranging in age from 18 to 22. All of the accused are African-American.

Thinking people know better, but when blacks commit violent crime, some will predictably use the incident to reinforce their racist views and indict all young black people. Witness the nasty exchanges on talk radio and online comment forums.

But race-based ranting won’t solve the problem. Nor will knee-jerk, overly aggressive policing. Increased security at Valleyfair or any other public place should not result in sweeps of black youth just because they’re black, or wearing baggy britches and oversized T-shirts.

Youth violence is a major issue for our society, and it transcends questions of race and class. The recent “mean girls” YouTube video demonstrated that young people of various races are savagely beating their peers and recording it for their 15 minutes of fame on the Internet.

Certainly part of the answer lies in law enforcement and the courts, which must do their parts to get the most violent off the streets and deliver swift and just punishment. We wonder, for example, why some of the accused in the Valleyfair incident weren’t in jail for previous offenses.

Government and schools can also be part of the solution. At the national NAACP conference this week, presidential candidate Barack Obama repeated his call for increased funding for education, health and antipoverty efforts. And he challenged the black community itself to do more.

“Yes, we have to demand more responsibility from Washington,” Obama said. “And yes, we have to demand more responsibility from Wall Street. But we also have to demand more from ourselves.” That’s a call to improve parenting and to support and expand groups like 100 African-American men, MAD DADS and Big Brothers — organizations that help steer black youth away from violence.

We share the anger and outrage caused by bands of young thugs. No family should have to endure the loss or injury of a loved one in this way. Yet in the search for solutions care must be taken to properly punish offenders and address the root causes of violence — without giving in to fear, ignorance and racism.

Root causes! The Star Tribune is stuck in a sixties time warp. Yes, with a black man on the verge of election to the presidency of the United States, one could easily forget that not all black men threaten bloody mayhem or, in the words of the Star Tribune, “youth violence.” (Never mind that six of the seven defendants charged are adults. The wise men of the Star Tribune have a hard time concentrating.)

The Star Tribune has made a valuable contribution to the public discourse with an editorial that peddles liberal bromides on crime at the same time as it promotes Barack Obama. Very efficient. It’s important to retain a good attitude all the way around. We get the point. Nevertheless, some day the Star Tribune may even get around to mentioning the racial disparities involved in the commission of violent crime.

In one story reporting the assault earlier this week, the Star Tribune provided the names of those charged with the assault: Devondre Evans-Lewis, Andrew Shannon, Darris Evans, Terry Arnold, Derry Evans and Anthony Gildersleeve. Those with a sharp eye for pattern recognition may note that Evans is the lowest common denominator of the names. Several of the defendants appear to be relatives. They were on a family outing of their own.

The Star Tribune has omitted to report any information on the criminal records of those charged since they were first identified. Easily accessible court records provide information that would certainly be of interest to many readers. To take one example, Derry Evans has a long record of criminal charges and convictions including aggravated robbery. To take another example, Terry Laron Arnold (the Terry Arnold involved here, according to this local report, mug shot above) was convicted earlier this year of promoting prostitution.

Coincidentally or not, the Evans family is one of Minnesota’s most notorious criminal gangs. A large contingent of the Evans family gang was indicted in St. Louis federal district court in 1999 for operating a juvenile prostitution ring. Twelve of the defendants charged pled guilty and six were convicted at trial. According to a contemporaneous account, twelve of the indicted were members of the Evans family, all from the Minneapolis area.

Does the Valleyfair rampage involve members of the younger generation of the Evans family? Reader Joel Rosenberg writes:

There’s at least some reason to believe that the, err, Young Minnesotans Whose Needs Must Now Be Addressed from the Valleyfair thing, may be related to the very famous Evanses, of the Evans family prostitution ring. Which would explain the pimping conviction, the being at Valleyfair, the grabbing onto a young girl, and the being out on bail quicker ‘n hell.

Wouldn’t it be nice, he said, if there was some enterprise in the Twin Cities area whose business it was to research matters of interest to the public, write up and edit reports on such, and print such things on inexpensive paper that could be sold in newsstands?

I know, instead we’ve got the Strib.

We shall see.

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