This is ugly, but it’s real.
And there's a lot more where that came from. Call it inadvertent citizen journalism here in the so-called Magic City, an armchair anthropologist’s goldmine posted on the Internet for someone to find. Birmingham News metro columnist John Archibald delivered the goods Sunday with a column that should enlighten the politically sheltered and frighten the socially insulated.
As just about everyone who pays attention to news in Birmingham knows by now three teenagers and one 21-year-old were shot last Monday night just outside Legion Field. The shooting occurred during a Labor Day football game between Parker and Huffman high schools. According to witnesses, at least one of the shooters shouted “Loveman Village” before opening fire. Loveman Village is a housing project in Birmingham’s North Titusville neighborhood. On Friday, Birmingham police arrested two men — 18-year-old Alonzo Robinson and a 16-year-old juvenile — for the crime.
The shooting left many in Birmingham befuddled and frustrated. Birmingham police had been assigned and positioned all over and around Legion Field when the shootings occurred. City officials have portrayed the shootings as a random and senseless event. However, as Archibald found, it’s not hard to peek further into the kindred Birmingham gang activity nor must you leave your desk for a better understanding of the underlying problems. All you have to do is search Bebo.com, a kissin’ cousin of MySpace and Facebook.
On Sunday, Archibald wrote:
Maybe, despite the buzz from the arrests, police should look closer at Loveman Village. You can do it, too. On the Internet. Just Google the phrase "Loveman Village Birmingham" and click on the Bebo profile "AntwonM3."
You'll see videos of roving bands of cash-flashing, bat-wielding young Birmingham men. You'll see links to dozens of Birmingham gangsters, flashing signs and making threats to people in rival neighborhoods.
The Google search on Sunday was not as direct as Archibald said, but after a little more digging we found the page here. What’s more, there’s already a Bebo page set up for the two suspects — Free Alonzo and Rahkim.
Be warned, though. If you click the link, you are going down a rabbit hole — to places where “nigga” has reached the apex of its usage, where lost youth convene in a network of narcissistic cliques to wish death on each other. I’m not Dante and this isn’t quite hell, but if you can find something to hope for there then you have a bigger soul than mine. And be mindful of what Friedrich Nietzsche cautioned us: When you look into the abyss, sometimes the abyss looks back into you.
The notion of the Internet Footprint isn’t new, and tracing criminals through social networking sites is a burgeoning field in criminal theory. Just last year, a few college students from up the hill from Legion Field burned nine churches, and they left behind them a trail of clues on their Facebook pages. I am an alumnus of that college, and I knew then that those three criminals and their Internet projections were not indicative of their community. If there is hope here for Birmingham it is this: that these misguided kids are no more representative of their communities, and neither will those communities tolerate their errant behavior.
— K. Whitmire