National news events spur many thoughts

Published 9:56 am Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It’s not too often I get wrapped up in national news like I have this last week as I have followed the developments about the two escaped prisoners from New York and the shooting of nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

As I am typing this, it appears there may have been a break in the case of the escaped prisoners. Authorities have stated that items found inside a burglarized hunting cabin in upstate New York may be linked to the convicted killers. The cabin was about 20 miles west of the prison, and authorities have sent the items off for DNA testing.

The escape and the subsequent search have reminded me of something you would see in a movie. Not only is it crazy that these two prisoners were able to escape but also that there were possibly staff at the prison who helped them get away with it.

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Hundreds of law enforcement officers have gone from door to door checking homes and are looking in wooded areas and campgrounds.

Hopefully, it’s only a matter of time before these two men are found — and without any potential injury to officers or to members of the public.

The Charleston shooting brought me back to when I lived on the East Coast in Virginia for most of my childhood and for a year when I lived in South Carolina.

We recognized even as children that racial disparities still exist, but I gratefully was never exposed to someone like 21-year-old Dylann Roof, who has reportedly admitted to the killing of the nine people in the Charleston church.

Roof reportedly embraced the Confederate flag as a symbol of white power, and the deaths have since spurred controversy about whether the flag should be removed from the statehouse.

I recall in high school there were students who had a Confederate flag hanging in the back of their pickups or who wore T-shirts with it on there. I wonder if they knew the history of that flag. While some view it as a symbol of Southern ancestry and heritage, others view it as a symbol of racism. At one point it has even been associated with the Klu Klux Klan.

In the Charleston shooting, some are pointing fingers toward racism and some are pointing fingers toward mental illness. Others are bringing up gun control.

Whatever the answer may be, I think we can all agree that it is a horrible tragedy, and hopefully we will be able to learn some lessons from this.

Though Albert Lea is not immune to crime, I am grateful that generally speaking we have less major crime than what is found in larger cities.

For some reason though I can’t help but watch what is unfolding on a national level.


Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Albert Lea Tribune.