Three mothers of children slain in Atlanta in recent months called yesterday for a rally at the Lincoln Memorial on May 25, Memorial Day, to focus attention on the problems of children nationwide.
"If you see the situation as merely children dying in Atlanta, I would venture to say that a rally cannot do much to help," said Camille Bell, mother of victim Yusef Bell and spokeswoman for a group of the mothers and their supporters. "If you see it as a basic war on children in America, than a rally that raises people's awareness can be very good."
Bell said the rally was intended to counteract a callous attitude she sees among officials and the public toward the problems of children.
"Our children don't learn in schools, they are dying on the strees, they are being used as sexual objects . . . kiddie porn flourishes, drugs are being pumped into their little systems," Bell said. "When these things happen to any group of people, you would consider it a war. Any nation that does not operate on a children-first basis is being suicidal."
The rally is being staged by a group called The Committee to Stop the Children's Murders, and has been endorsed, according to organizers, by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, District 65 of the United Auto Workers and D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, among others.
Bell was critical of the response of Atlanta officials and officials of other cities, saving that when a ghetto child is missing the first response is generally to say, "It's just a runaway."
Venus Taylor, whose slain daughter Angel Lanier is one of only two girls listed among the Atlanta cases said that she believed the Atlanta police should "call in the National Guard" to help solve the cases, and should closely watch the rivers where so many of the bodies have been found.
"I can't see how it's happening," said Taylor. "Bodies are being dropped in the rivers every week, and nobody's seeing anything."
Bell acknowledged that many cases of child-murder nationwide are the result of child abuse by parents, but said, "Child abuse frequently comes from frustration and anger. A lot comes from insensitive government -- people take it all out on the child. That's not right, that's not good, but it happens."