RICHMOND, Va. -- It seems like this past Memorial Day weekend, Harambe the rare silver-back gorilla was mourned more than our veterans who died in wars or innocent children and adults murdered in our cities.
Video of Saturday's incident at the Cincinnati zoo is certainly terrifying.
So was the outcome. The gorilla was quickly shot to death by zoo workers when Harambe dragged the little boy who climbed/fell into his pen through the moat and then climbed the wall with him.
Oh, the Immediate anger! Why did Harambe have to be shot? Why not tranquilized?
Social media exploded. It seemed everyone was a gorilla expert. Even the woman who shot the viral video couldn't stop it by describing what her video didn't show - the gorilla scaling the rock wall, dragging the boy up as the child's head banged against the stone.
Zoo experts couldn't satisfy critics.
And then, of course, the fury turned on boy's mother.
Facebook memes devoured her. There were death threats reported.
Some news outlets named her and the boy's father, showing photographs of them.
The Daily Mail even published the father's criminal history, even though he apparently wasn't even at the zoo.
This prompted Shaun King, writer and activist in the Black Lives Matter movement, to inject race into the issue, claiming a racist nation is responsible for the vitriol the family is facing.
"The fallout over the incident has taken a decidedly racist turn as the public has now discovered that the boy and his parents are black," King wrote for the New York Daily News.
To me, most of the articles describing the mom have been somewhat fair, given the near-insane reaction when animals are killed because of human error or greed.
Remember the guy who killed (legally, as it turned out) Cecil the lion? How many wanted him burned at the stake? How every possible blemish in his past was rooted out?
And I remember interviewing the mother who accidentally allowed her child to reach into the bear enclosure at our Maymont Park on a snowy April day a decade ago.
The child was scratched. The two bears were euthanized.
The mother was mortified by what happened, and at the vitriol leveled at her. It was amazing. Some even suggested she should be euthanized. (She is white, by the way.)
When stuff like this happens, people lose their minds. Any shred of dirt that can be dug up about the perceived perps will be shoveled gleefully, regardless of race or income.
Much more pertinent to me is the huge outcry over the death of this innocent gorilla when completely innocent people and children - most of them minorities - are gunned down in our cities during drive-bys, robberies and mistaken identity slayings with a fraction of the notice.
Year after year they fall, often in the same poor neighborhoods, the same rough streets where children grow up practically caged in poverty and horrible government housing that concentrates dysfunction and makes it oh-so difficult to escape.
Oh, there might be a local vigil or rally, but no nationwide fury, no monuments sculpted to remember them by.
Yes, it's easy to understand why we get so worked up when animals like Harambe are killed.
They're innocent. They didn't do anything wrong. They were in our care.
But the same things can be said of many of the innocent children and others slaughtered here and in cities like ours across the country.
Their deaths are part of complex, bedrock issues surrounding poverty and race and how we deal with the poorest among us - issues that have been festering for generations.
It's so hard to truly tackle those.
It's so much easier and quicker to go after the people who killed Harambe.