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Dec-12-2012 11:12printcomments

Murder in the Mall is No Way to Mark the Holidays

Clackamas Mall Murders merit meaningful public response...

Clackamas Town Center in the aftermath
Clackamas Town Center in the aftermath. Photo: OPB

(SALEM) - It was mid-day Tuesday, and gunshots rang out in the Clackamas Town Center here in Oregon. Three victims lay lead, including the shooter himself, and there were others wounded. What was supposed to be the season to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace turned into anything but peaceful. Murder in the mall is no way to mark the Holidays.

We witness such wanton acts of violence over tv several times a year, and shake our heads in disbelief. Now such horrific violence has visited us in our own backyards. What do we as a community do to prevent a sequel down the road?

As a person who has counseled clients with anger management issues, I am stirred to action. My recommendations:

-- Have Gov. Kitzhaber call a Statewide Summit on Subduing Violence. Include leading educators and mental health professionals as well as key police chiefs from around Oregon.

-- Explore the possibility of mandating non-violence training and conflict resolution as part of needed credits for high school graduation beginning in Academic Year 2013-14. Be certain that youth leaders take part in developing the curriculum.

-- Require that every county mental health department throughout the state receive training in identifying symptoms of violent mindsets and be given the tools to remedy such high-risk clients. Develop a database for tracking reported incidents of violence.

-- Determine to what degree those who perpetrate shootings have been properly screened by those who sell them weapons. Should it develop that major loopholes to public safety exist, hold hearings on possible legislation.

-- Dedicate the week of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday each year to community events that focus on non-violence. That would be the best way to recognize what Dr. King stood for. Let us commit that his own murder shall not have been in vain.

When those bells ring come Christmas Eve, let's remember for whom the bells toll. They toll for each one of us.


NOTE: Lee Coyne has transitioned through three careers: writer, educator, and medical social worker. Forty years of that seasoning brought forth the observations above. Send him an email at: Community Writer Barry Lee Coyne brings to our readers stories from his combined career of journalism and gerontology, and explains that these paths shaped his values. Lee Coyne once worked for The Civil Service Leader in NY State and covered the Legislature. He has also done features on mediation and arbitration, and believes in healthy skepticism. This writer-therapist often views the world as the masks of comedy and tragedy placed upon the scales of justice. For him, optimism inevitably wins. "Lyrical Lee" has traveled to 30 nations aboard and was once a press intern at the UN. His first published article was in The NY Daily News in '59, dealing with the need for integrity in public office.

He also launched the nation's first tele-conference on health education for shut-ins, created the Eldermentors project in VA to pair retirees with immigrant students needing role models, and was the main catalyst behind CCTV's "Public Public" panel show here in Salem. Lee received his BA in International Relations and an MSW in community organization. He currently serves as a member of Salem's Library Advisory Board. To send Lee an email, please write to this address:




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Dexter December 12, 2012 6:24 pm (Pacific time)

The Wild West is a scary proposition, wether it be in the States or Canada . I do love the simplicity of life in that time period . But to be truthful , if they had such a mentality in this day and age would be a blood bath in Oregon.

DJ: Not Canada Dexter. The Canadian West (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) were settle peacefully by the Royal Canadian North West Mounted Police, who established Forts throughout the territories and kept the peace. The Indians trusted them as honest brokers. There were no Indian wars or genocides. Not to say that the Indians weren't betrayed later by the governments (at the behest of business, i.e., The Hudson's Bay Company and the Canadian Pacific Railway).But the settling and expansion of the West in the U.S and Canada were polar opposites.

Amandablack December 12, 2012 6:04 pm (Pacific time)

A country which has seen Presidents killed by hand guns, other officials killed at random, and thousand die in the streets of America by individuals in posession of illeqal or even legal firearms, assault weapons, etc.,is a lawless America. We are worse off today, than the safety of the old West ever was. Therefore - no tragedy will change the gun-toting attitude of Americans to own a gun.

Dexter December 12, 2012 4:58 pm (Pacific time)

I use live in L.A for a few years, and everyone told me that guns / knives were out of control. When I moved to Oregon , I met some of the most friendliest people in my life, but also saw more guns in peoples houses than Cali. But there is a darker agenda in this part of the United States . Lack of work, confusing gun laws , corrupted law and prison enforcements . Like the old saying goes (not including the female species ) ...the quiet ones are always the worst ones. Lack of work , extreme hostilities with the local enforcement , Meth head capital , Prison system that makes North Korea seem like Disney Land , and as always ...Job loses before Christmas time. Every mans worst nightmare ...more so if they are part of an abusive relationship. I am not making excuses about what happened here, but I can guarantee (being close to Christmas ) this is motivated by a stressful family situation , brought on by loss of work. Even though Oregon is a very placid place to be , the environment has made it a very "volatile" place to be in (due to how the place is run).

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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