Golden Canary of LB

This is the first publishing of an article on the recent violence in the streets of Long Beach. It was rejected by its editor but the truth must out.

-M. Veremans, editorial staff

Golden Canary of LB
Eva Schöffer – Long Beach
Friday, July 24, 2009

It was two and going on into evening, the streets were hot and the dust whipped wildly at my legs. The wind was silent though, and the witnesses present were whispering in indecipherable quiet. Like crows they stood around gawking in the trees, in the gutters, out car windows, and off church steps—a thronging nebula, more like a constellation all focused on the brightest star—a murder victim, cold in the summer. Rust-red blood bloomed over the pavement around where he was laying, gunshot to the head.

Markus Morales was preparing to enter the twelfth grade at Cabrillo High and deeply involved in a local set of the Pirus—more of a machismo boys club than a criminal organization, except for petty drug dealing, usually to friends and locals. A benign business that once only boomed during family BBQs and nighttime parties began to dip into the dismal depression of debt. With most firms consolidating jobs, familiar distributors—those who exclusively sell to friends, relatives, and acquaintances—are more willing than ever to deal to a closed network. Profits are made in the form of surplus product or petty cash.

Morales was dead before I ever met him, and I learned these few facts by asking an anonymous friend of his who was so scared that he forgot the ageless code of the street—silence. Witness testimony at the scene suggests that two unidentified, well-dressed gunmen shot Markus and then fled calmly in an unmarked vehicle. Quick to shield their traditional apathy to most street murder cases, the police have declined to comment, leaving potential victims ignorant and vulnerable.

Like the other organized-crime murders this summer, the bodies were left in public view—on MLK and 6th St., near Santa Rosa church—but the epidemic of killings are thought to be completely unrelated. Clyde “Sly” Johnson, 17, Benny “Killer” Guzman, 18, DeVon “Day-day” Allah, 15, Charles “Sui” Khamsyha, 16, were also kids dead on loans to drug mafias, found in the debtors prison of the gutters, chronicled in previous volumes of the Jaguar Press after it was too late. This article must find the youth alive.

The broad Latin American drug network, through careful political maneuvering and an eagerness for violent resolution, has transformed itself into a multi-billion dollar industry, dealing in cocaine produced in Columbia and heroin from Afghanistan, among other contraband. Law enforcement and policy efforts to curb the trade have simply strengthened this international conglomerate that now encompasses the entire Western hemisphere and even Europe, where members of Mexican street gangs were arrested last year. Despite the scope of the business, most low-level distributors such as Markus deal in cocaine and cannabis, which is now domestically grown.

The crowd of bystanders watched the scene, eyes affixed to the memento mori—if you can call a dead man that—like a exploitation film they’d seen over and over, always with the same plot and ending. Slamming fire in the streets where crime and poverty are sister sicknesses, fear is king, the alligator of the sewers, and they all lead to the ocean. The youth here is desperately pushed and pulled down the fatal career path of debt and death without respite.


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3 Responses to Golden Canary of LB

  1. jaguarpress says:

    Anonymous said…

    10/12/09 5:44 PM
    Michael Veremans said…

    10/13/09 3:40 AM

  2. Kyle Veremans says:

    Markus Morales was a student while I was working at Cabrillo High School. He was not known for anything exceptionally academic, but he was missed by many of the students and even some of the staff. I too had never met him, but students kept him alive with good stories and silk screened tee shirts of his face. These are the only way many of these kids have to remember the peers that could have been life long friends.

  3. pi says:

    Very well written.

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