Feb 19, 2018
Seventeen students and teachers are dead, gunned down at their school in Parkland, Florida.
The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had given out lots of danger signs before. He had posted on YouTube last year under his own name that he wanted to be a “professional school shooter.” This post was forwarded to the FBI, but they say they had been unable to figure out who posted it. This January 5, someone close to him reported that Cruz had a “desire to kill,” the access to guns, and that he could be plotting an attack on a school. Again, the FBI did not investigate.
The police also knew about Cruz. Police regularly came to his house, though he never got a criminal record. He had smashed a neighbor’s trailer with golf clubs, scooped fish out of another neighbor’s pond, got into a fight with the new boyfriend of his ex-girlfriend. The Broward County Sheriff said that his office had gotten more than 20 calls about Cruz in the past few years.
Clearly, both the FBI and the local police missed the signs that Cruz would explode. Some have gone so far as to say that, had the FBI responded earlier, the shooting could have been prevented.
Perhaps. But the number of school shootings has exploded, leaving people at a loss to understand if and how they can be prevented.
Since 20 first graders and six adults were killed in a Sandy Hook, Connecticut elementary school in 2012, there have been over 200 school shootings and more than 400 people have been shot. After this most recent shooting in Florida, the infamous Columbine shooting is not even among the ten most deadly mass shootings in recent U.S. history! How would the FBI stop all of this? By arresting every person about whom they get a tip? Every person who is mentally ill?
The FBI focuses on “big” terrorism that justifies U.S. wars. And they have a long history of going after people who try to organize against the brutality of this society. Neither the cops nor the FBI have an answer for the school shootings, the violence in the neighborhoods and in our homes – the real terrorism the population faces.
Nikolas Cruz grew up with a safety net of one person – his mother. He was troubled before, but when she died in November, neighbors reported that he got dramatically worse. The isolation and demoralization of youth like Cruz, in a society full of violence but lacking a basic social safety net, leads to hundreds of murders and suicides every year, on top of the mass shootings. These problems require a large-scale social solution.
In a society organized by the population to meet its needs, we could build ways to intervene when people started down the path to violence. But today, we are stuck in this capitalist society in decay, with a state apparatus that offers no protection. Our only chance is to look out for each other and mobilize to protect ourselves.