Monday, January 06, 2014

We Make the News

It's a big country with a great many people - over three hundred million now and trending higher. Barely on the western edge of the lower 48 states is where Eureka, CA is located. We don't even have 30,000 people, but still manage to be the largest city in Woody Guthrie's "redwood forest".  Our share of national news, it follows, is tiny. Usually big news here is Wal Mart moving into a large empty space in the mall.
But that's not quite accurate. Crime and law enforcement are continuing big stories here, particularly when it involves growing and processing drugs. Drugs, especially marijuana, are the underground economic dog wagging the tail of regular commercial activity.
But even drugs don't apply this time. Last week we experienced an awful crime, the resolution of which will require months or longer. A Catholic priest was found murdered in the rectory adjacent to a large downtown church, St. Bernard's. He was found by one of the members who went looking for him when he was late for a morning mass he was to conduct.
Father Freed was well liked by many. People valued his abilities as a teacher, leader and friend. His career had taken him, among other places, to Japan where he served for twenty years. Mona's boss considered herself one of Father Freed's many friends, and the announcement of his loss has, at the vary least, disrupted her schedule. It couldn't have helped when the police announced that the death was a result of "blunt force trauma".
But there is a suspect in custody, a man in his 40's from one of the little agricultural towns that dot the area. His family turned him in, although they may not have known that the crime was murder. Police say they have good evidence, though no eyewitnesses. They have not speculated publicly about a motive. The details, which are far shiort of the complete picture, may be found at the website of our local paper, the Times Standard. Father Freed's funeral was today.
Our city has some great things to recommend it. We don't look forward to the day when we may need to live somewhere else. But no place is perfect, and events like this one are a sober reminder of that fact. It's hard to say what, if anything, we could do to be safer, since anyone who wants to break into your home, follow your car or who just mistakes you for someone else is near impossible to predict. But I can't pretend that there couldn't be others out there who could harm us if they wanted to badly enough. Maybe this is a little like what it's like to live in Baghdad or Kabul.   


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