Sunday, May 24, 2009


Yesterday the boys were mugged at knifepoint. Matt and William had gone over to the Virgilio Barco Library, which is very nearby. Matt has been doing architectural models in sketch-up and uploading them into Google Earth, and he wanted to do a model of the library, so he went to take measurements and photographs. Three kids (13,12, and 8), armed with knives, grabbed them and forced them to surrender the camera, the cellphone, and they took Matt's shoes (probably not because the shoes were worth much, but rather to keep him from chasing them down).

The boys took off, and Matt did chase them, yelling as loud as he could. He attracted the attention of several by-passers, who caught the oldest boy. Matt caught the youngest one, who had the cellphone in his pocket. Matt got the cellphone and his shoes back, but the third boy escaped with the camera. An older man was holding onto the youngest boy, but the boy got away from him too.

The Police and Family Welfare Services were called and the one remaining boy, 13, was taken into protective custody. He apparently is a known offender. Matt and his father went with the Police to file the report, even though the Police were completely disinterested and rather felt it was a nuisance to have to deal with this kind of petty crime. They wanted to just let the boy go right then and there, but I had called my friend Estela who is a human rights consultant to the Police. She called the local family commissioner who is in charge of cases involving minors under 14. The Police were a bit put off when they were informed that the boy would have to be delivered into the commissioner's custody at the office downtown. The boy will be kept under the auspices of Family Welfare Services until his family has been contacted and his home situation has been assessed.

Matt and William were unhurt, but it was still an act of violence and it was upsetting for them. Afterwards we had a long talk about the have and have-nots, child rights and child offenders, and correctional and reformatory services, and the need to stay alert on the streets. It was quite the sociological experience. Our life doesn't normally have so much drama.

Virgilio Barco Library, the view from our living room window.

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