If recent headlines are any indication, violent crime by young E-Towners is out of control. Five stabbings this past weekend. I’m sure that on the mean streets of Detroit that figure is closer to an hourly total, but here in Edmonton it’s more than a little unsettling. A 17-year-old, Evan Grykuliak, knifed down on his birthday, DOA at the hospital; 17 years and an untold future down the drain simply for trying to get some undesirables to leave his party. Three men stabbed on Whyte and 105th street as several witnesses watched and later failed to come forward; one 20 year-old man, Dylan McGillis, dead, leaving behind a pregnant girlfriend. Man pulled out of a truck and stabbed in the leg minutes later in the same area, probably by the same perpetrator. A 23 year-old man stabbed and beaten outside a Jasper Avenue club; two teenagers charged. That’s quite the weekend for the EPS. All of those killings are boggling. Why is the big question. Have a look at The Deadmonton Site (somewhat morbid but fascinating) for an interesting look at the rest of this year’s murders to date.
These recent murders are distressing and, in light of other recent brutal killings (Shane Rolston, Wil Conely) should cause concern. Mayor Mandel’s comments (Summarized Here) on the importance of increased policing may have sounded like mere placation, but they were necessary. And heartfeft, I believe. Edmonton now has the unwelcome distinction of the highest murder rate of any major city in Canada. We lost the Cup AND we’re going to top last year’s record kill total. A banner year, no?
Are the headlines truly cause for alarm? Does every young male pack a blade these days? Can’t we settle our differences with a punch to the jaw instead of a shank to the kidney? It’s a sad day when good ‘ol fashioned fist fighting doesn’t solve anything (not that it ever did, really, but at least nobody got killed); when it seems antiquated and trite. There are common threads to all the murders that I listed above: Young men, booze, and knives. Some city officials have forwarded the hypothesis that this recent spate of violence is, at least in part, caused by the influx of young males to our fair city. The fact that young men from across the country are flocking to our province is well-established, but whether that fact equates to more murders remains undemonstrated. It sounds true and reasonable, but is it? The violence by minors has a more obvious cause: light sentencing under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Shayne Rolston’s murderers received little more than a slap on the wrist for their savagery. If a young, testosterone-heavy man knows that he’ll get no more than a few years for rubbing someone out, why wouldn’t he do it if a situation came down to it? When the liquor is smacking high and the ego is raging even higher, things can escalate to homicide very quickly.
We can’t ban knives and we can’t stop young men from drinking and doing dope. We can’t stop random and unpredictable violence of the type that took the lives of two young Edmontonians this past weekend. We can’t throw young people in jail forever with absolutely no hope of redeeming themselves. We can crack down on a few problem beerhalls. We can get more cops on the streets in high-risk areas during high-risk times. We can lobby for much stiffer youth sentences. What else can we do?
Aggressive man, stock photo
StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.
The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?