Monday, November 10, 2008

Why This is News: Frenchie

 You may wonder why you've been seeing a Picasso-like rough self portrait of a man wearing a beret on our front page several times lately. 
 While the picture may look happy, it's actually a heart-breaking story.
 It's the story of Wilford "Frenchie" Hamilton, a local homeless man who was beaten to death in downtown Pontiac. The suspects are two 14-year-olds from Jefferson Middle School in Pontiac.
 They're charged as adults with first-degree murder, awaiting trial.
 If you're wondering how a 14-year-old could be charged with an adult felony, it's because adult charges may be used in especially heinous crimes. 
 And if you think Frenchie's life wasn't worth much because he was homeless, you're wrong. In a compelling look at Frenchie's life that ran Sunday, reporter Shaun Byron let readers know that Frenchie at one time earned a six-figure salary, had a love for art and anything French. He even worked at The Oakland Press at one time. 
 But the demon in his life was alcohol. It robbed him of everything, and robbed him of having a safe place to stay. 
 And the combination of Frenchie being on the street, and some bored school kids getting in trouble, cost Frenchie his life. 
 While you might say, "Why is Frenchie's picture on your front page again?" you might be better off saying, "Why would young kids want to hurt a hapless street person?" 
 And one step beyond that: "What should we do with them?"


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