Columbia, SC — I have learned since her shooting early Sunday morning in Five Points that Martha Childress is a kind young woman, a good student and a fighter; this tragedy is made so much worse by how promising a future she had and how her life will be changed forever by this event.
However, the thing that hits me deep in my core as a fellow USC student is the fact that she is just so normal. She is just … like … me. That could have happened to me. Or to one of my friends. Or to anyone. The normalcy of the circumstances, the randomness of the tragedy is what bothers me the most.
It’s no secret that more police are on patrol in Five Points in the past few months. But on patrol for what? Ask most students what they think the police’s main concern in Five Points is, and they would say drunk college students.
Since police patrols were increased in response to a series of shootings over the past year, why on earth do students who frequent Five Points still feel that their main concern is arresting underage college students? Why do we not feel that their main concern is keeping us safe?
According to bystanders and news reports, there were several officers within close vicinity of the altercation that resulted in Martha’s injury. If their purpose in Five Points is to protect college students from street violence, then how was it that this random act of violence was able to be carried out?
I wonder how much focus is placed on drunk college students just trying to have a good time and how much on the people bringing gun violence to an otherwise peaceful environment.
What does it mean to protect and serve? Are law enforcement too busy trying to serve their minor-in-possession quotas and failing to protect us in the process?
It’s time for college students and Columbia residents alike to demand more from law enforcement. It is time for us to feel safe and secure on our campus and in our community and for the targets to be removed from our backs.
We are not the problem. I beg law enforcement on campus and in the greater Columbia area to realize this and reevaluate their priorities when patrolling the Five Points neighborhood.
Calla Paige Chuy