O'CONNELL: Chris Lane's murder and the tragedy of fatherless youth

The lack of a father’s influence results in a generation losing their minds, and their lives. Photo: East Central University / AP

LOS ANGELES, August 23, 2013 — Oklahoma and the rest of America are stunned by the murder of 22-year-old Christopher Lane, an Australian attending East Central University on a baseball scholarship. Lane was shot in cold blood by three teenagers because they were “bored”.

The right immediately jumped on the races of the suspects and victim as the main issue, while the left has tried to eliminate comparisons to Trayvon Martin. Both sides miss the mark.


SEE RELATED: Obama’s silence on Chris Lane, race and ruined black families


America has too long ignored the destruction borne from the lack of a strong male influence in the home. We equally ignore the pervasive influence of the gang culture, which is too often the catalyst in senseless murders like this. There are no clean hands here: The news media, the community of all races and colors, the left and the right dance around these facts. We latch onto the meme of racism rather than addressing the true root of the problem.

The slaughter of an innocent young man was perpetrated by fatherless and rudderless youths. Suspects James Edwards Jr., 15, Chancey Luna, 16, and Michael Jones, 17, lacked male influence and oversight; they were left to their own devices. They took a life and have lost their own.

An entire generation and our country are losing our collective minds.

The contrast between an involved father and no father on the life of a boy is illustrated by James Johnson, the hero of this sad tale. Johnson, 52, called the police to tell them that the accused killers were hiding in the car park of Immauel Baptist Church in Duncan, where the murder occurred.


SEE RELATED: COTTO: Chris Lane is the victim of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ America


Johnson was protecting his terrified 17-year-old son Christopher, who was allegedly threatened by Edwards on Facebook. “They threatened to kill my son because they are in a gang, the Crips, and were trying to get my son in it,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t let him do it. I told him he couldn’t run with those boys.”

The police quickly apprehended the three teenagers due to the swift action of an involved father. He steered his son away from corrupt company, saved the life of his child, and was instrumental in helping find the accused killers of Christopher Lane.

Edwards’ father, James Edwards Sr., protested his son’s innocence. He said he knew where his son was 95 percent of the time. He was under the illusion that his son could be an Olympic wrestler, despite previous brushes with law enforcement, and an appearance on a probation matter mere minutes after Lane was shot.

Perhaps Edwards Sr. did not know that his son was involved with the Crips. Maybe he did not know his son boasted of beating up white people, or know that he had raised a kid who claimed to hate another race. Perhaps that 5 percent when Senior failed to know what Junior was up to now determines Junior’s destiny.

From the apparent lack of remorse shown by Edwards Jr., perhaps becoming a product of the prison system was the destiny he wanted.

Johnson described suspects Edwards Jr. and Luna as “troublemakers” and “bullies” who had “no parental supervision”. The Sun reports that Luna’s father died a year earlier in a motorcycle accident. The impact of a father’s absence from the home is often hard to measure until tragedies such as this occur, but the impact is there. This needs to stop.

If absent fathers are the root of the tree, gangs are some of its bitter fruit. If fathers were actively, lovingly involved in their sons’ and daughters’ lives, gangs would find no one to recruit. Gangs fill the vacuum left by the withered families and ruined communities that are a hallmark of American life.

Edwards Jr. put a video on the Vine network, which shows him brandishing guns and using gang signage and speech. He also was recorded mumbling the lyrics to a Chief Keef rap song, flicking through $100 bills and playing the extremely violent video game Call of Duty.

Luna’s Facebook page, where he dons the name “BabyDrake”, has him posing in pictures, some with Edwards, where he throws down gang signs. Whether these young men were “wannabes” as Johnson surmises or involved in an actual gang is unknown. However, the influence of this culture was the greater draw, and apparently dictated their heinous behavior.

On Tuesday, the three teenagers were charged as adults in Lane’s murder. Edwards Jr. and Luna, who reportedly pulled the trigger, were charged with first-degree murder. If convicted, they face life in prison without parole.

Jones allegedly drove the vehicle used during the murder, and was charged with facilitating the discharge of a weapon and accessory after the fact of murder in the first degree. Jones faces a sentence from two years to life if convicted. During the arraignment, Jones’ pregnant girlfriend made an appearance. If Jones is convicted, even with the lesser charge, he may not see his child until it is an adult. This would mean the evil of another fatherless child perpetuates to the next generation.

Young people are losing their minds and their lives. Yet, we prefer to dance and posture around familiar territory rather than call out the real issue. A generation without fathers is a generation without moorings. If something is not done, we will continue to eat the bitter fruit of this tree.


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Jennifer Oliver O'Connell

Jennifer Oliver O’Connell is the "In My Orbit" columnist for Washington Times Communities, writes on Los Angeles Faith and Community for Examiner.com, teaches Yoga, and coaches on careers and reinvention.

You can keep up with what's in Jennifer's orbit through her As the Girl Turns website: (http://asthegirlturns.com).

Contact Jennifer Oliver O'Connell

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