Remember this horrible story, about the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl outside the Richmond High School Homecoming dance? As many as 20 people witnessed the brutality, but the 911 call didn't come in till two hours later.
NPR's Richard Gonzales grew up in Richmond, though he went to a different high school. He went back to his hometown to see how the locals are coping with the aftermath of the tragedy. He also asked this question of Rhonda James, who runs the rape crisis center there: How could this have happened?
JAMES: We have to realize that we have failed our boy and our girls and I think you see that really strongly in an under-resourced community.
GONZALES: There's got to be a lot of people out there who say, what's that got to do with this barbarity? Why are you making excuses?
JAMES: Poverty. Nothing excuses the behavior of these young men. Nothing. I think its easy to start seeing your self other than the person you're abusing. It's easy to otherize, if you have been otherized. We see it where men gather. We see it where men gather.
Where poverty reigns, empathy can be an unfortunate casualty. In other words, Gonzales concludes, "it could have happened anywhere."