Monday, January 17, 2011

Cleveland School Shootings and Michael Jackson

22 years ago on today's date, January 17, a deranged man opened fire on Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California, killing 5 children. Patrick Purdy, the lone gunman, pulled his station wagon into the back of the school, lit his car on fire, put earplugs in his ears, and sprayed at least 106 bullets into a schoolyard full of mostly kindergarten to third graders. The assault lasted 4 minutes, and when it was over, one teacher and 29 children were wounded, and 5 children were dead. Purdy then shot himself in the head with a pistol.

I have a family member who lived in Stockton at the time of the shootings. When asked, she said that there is no way to accurately describe the atmosphere in Stockon on that day. Every single elementary, middle and high school in the Stockton area was locked down for hours. Every single student who attended Stockton Unified School District was ordered to get under their desk, and stay there for over an hour. Parents were understandably terrified; most parents wanted to pull their children out of school. Yet, SUSD would not allow it for fear of any other type of shootings that might occur at another school site.

In the days after the shooting, kids were afraid to go to school. Likewise, parents were afraid to send their children to school. While Patrick Purdy was pegged as a loner with no affiliation to any group in particular, the fear in the air was still palpable. And although the Cleveland School shootings made the national news, Stockton saw no help from any entertainer who might provide relief. That is, until Michael Jackson came to Stockton.

A few weeks after the shootings, Diane Batres, head the of Victim Witness program in Stockton, received a phone call from MJJ Productions. At the time Batres did not associate MJJ Productions with Michael Jackson. After learning that Michael Jackson was interested in visiting the school and the surviving children, Batres and Jackson set up a day when Michael could visit the school.

"It was very kind of him to do this. He brought truckloads of gifts and held children in his arms. He was genuinely concerned and expressed his sorrow." Michael also distributed videotapes of his latest recordings to the children and staff at the school. One of the songs distributed was Man in the Mirror.

"One of the mothers called after the experience and said, 'I am so glad I saw that' because she realized for the first time that there were yellow tears, white tears, brown tears and black tears. Every tear was the same color. They all felt the same sadness."

The above picture was taken in Stockton while visiting Cleveland Elementary School. This is the Michael Jackson we all know and love. Like Martin Luther King, Michael Jackson had a dream, too.

8 comments:

Deborah Ffrench said...

Yes he did A.I.S, yes he did.

Thank you for sharing this. Please keep them coming.

SandyK said...

Along with Deborah, I also want to thank you for sharing this both heartbreaking and heartwarming story, Justice. Yes, Michael definitely did have a dream and he did what he could to make his dreams, and the dreams of others, reality.

Michael Jackson: And Justice for Some said...

Sandy/Deborah,

The funny thing is that I had not thought of this story in a long time. Last night I was having trouble sleeping, and for some weird reason, I thought of Michael Jackson going to Stockton. I did not get up and read about it again, I finally fell asleep.

Then this morning I looked on the internet for the story and realized that the Cleveland shootings happened EXACTLY 22 years ago to the day.

Angela said...

I grew up in Stockton, CA. I did not go to school in that same district, but I do remember that awful day and being scared to attend my school after that. I was only 8 at the time and didn't realize that it became a national news story cause to me it was just little ol' Stockton. My parents still live there and they said the day Michael passed away, the entire news coverage was of footage of him at Cleveland School and the hospital where he visited the injured children.

MissShae said...

Justice said, "Like Martin Luther King, Michael Jackson had a dream, too."

Exactly Justice. This is only one example of the sincere character of MJ and his love for humanity but his love runs much deeper and it is my belief that in time we will see just how deep that love is...

kidsfirst19@gmail.com said...

I remember the day like it was yesterday. I attended Hazelton Elementary and remember being ushered out of school early. Michael is forever in our hearts and don't forget about Janet for writing a song on Rhythm Nation. Bless us all.

Anonymous said...

I lived on Fulton Street. 1/2 of block from the school at the time of the shooting. I was 12 yrs old and went to the catholic school nearby. When it happened, everything was so foggy to me. I couldnt understand it. I feared for my friends. I wondered if they had been killed. It was too much to grasp. Me and many others went to bed that night with a whole different vision of life... It was a very sad feeling for a long time.

Angela said...

My brother and I went to that school however we were not in school that day because we went to Sacramento to visit family but we watched it all unfold on the news some of my friends were injured that day and I was mentally scared for life. I worry everyday for my children especially now days with all the school shootings that have happened since that tragic day, what is the world coming to? So very sad and my heart and prayers go out to the family's in Connecticut today and especialy to the family's that lost loved ones may the Lord be with all of you