August 28, 2009

The Dunbar Village Case: Who Is My Neighbor?

--Dunbar Village, West Palm Beach, Florida

"Who is my neighbor?"

Thousands of years ago, the question was asked. It is still asked today. When Jesus was presented with this question, He answered it by telling a story which came to be known as the "Parable of the Good Samaritan."

In 2009, the question may be answered in the true story of Dunbar Village.

If you are unfamiliar with the case, I offer a short summary of what happened in Dunbar Village, a public housing development in West Palm Beach, Florida, in June of 2007.

A mother, alone at home with her twelve year old son, was the victim of a home invasion. Several male teens invaded her home, gang raped her, and forced her to commit a sexual act on her young son. Wearing hoods, the alleged rapists used weapons to control the woman and her son. The assault continued for hours. Household cleaning solutions were poured into the twelve year old's eyes.

According the, the alleged intruders left the home after stealing cash, a cell phone, and other valuables. Under cover of night, the woman, a Haitian immigrant, and her son walked a mile to the hospital because they did not have a phone to call for help.

The case is coming to trial this month. DNA evidence has linked the accused to the crime scene. You can follow excellent, on-site coverage of the trial at .

So, who is my neighbor?

I really wouldn't expect a civilian to rush into that apartment with guns blazing. But how about a call to the police? How about a knock on the wall? How many screams can one listen to before becoming so inwardly disturbed that action is necessary, and inevitable?

On June 18, 2007, the victims had no neighbors. The pain and humiliation involved in having to walk a mile to the hospital after surviving this type of assault is really unimaginable to me. Can you imagine it? Could anyone have been a neighbor to this woman and her son? Was everyone in the environment so disrupted and demoralized that action seems useless, pointless? Where does this level of indifference come from? What happens when such indifference is sustained over time and across location?

No answers here; just questions. Who is my neighbor? To whom am I a neighbor?


meetta said...


I had heard of this case and thought that it was some horrid basis for some horrid movie. I could not believe it then. I DID NOT WANT TO believe it then!
As a single woman, a mother myself, having spent many years with it just being me and my son living together...This story really proved to be quite scary. It was too close to home.

But you know, you do have a point, several points. People, many people don't want to get involved. They are cowardice. It is safe and true to say that many people are immune to violence even the most heinous of acts. This was in comprehensible to me.

When you look at our society, the lack of proper child rearing, parental responsibility, lack or loss or misuse of common sense. Lack of morals and integrity. Disrespect or disregard for sound spiritual guidance. All that mixed in with what we are watching as "entertainment", murders, rapes, child molestations, killings and many other heinous acts, it's no wonder why people act the way they act. While it is true that television is not "making" people commit such acts, IT DOES introduce a lot of ideas that have proven to contribute to this kind of behavior.

NEIGHBORS... I have wondered many times about mine. Some neighbors themselves, gave me cause to wonder. Society gave me the other reason.

deborah evans said...

Thanks for your comments, Meetta.

The reason I asked the questions at the end of the post--Who is my neighbor? To whom am I a neighbor--is because the answers to these questions determine community. More than money, beautiful buildings, lovely landscaping, great retail...more than anything, community is determined by our relationships with the people around us.

That is where the true value of life is found. That is where the true pain of emptiness is felt.