Editorial: We are slamming police officers… yet nobody seems to want to talk about black on black crime?

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NEW ORLEANS, LA – During the past month, violence has seen a dramatic uptick in many cities across the country. 

In New York City, shootings increased by 277% in just the last week. 

In Chicago, violence exploded over Memorial Day and shows no signs of slowing down.  Over the Fourth of July weekend, at least 70 people were wounded and 17 were killed there. 

In Atlanta, there have been over 75 shootings during the past several weeks.

The rise in violence has caught many of our most innocent in the crossfire.  Over the Fourth of July weekend, at least six children, ranging in age from eight to 14, were killed across the nation by gunfire.

Babies have not even been spared the violence.  On July 12 in Brooklyn, NY, 1-year-old Davell Gardner Jr. was shot in the stomach and died when a suspect shot at a group attending a family cookout.

In New Orleans, nine-year-old Davonte Bryant was shot in the head and killed July 13 in front of his home when a suspect or suspects opened fire on him and two other kids. 

One of Bryant’s 13-year-old friends was struck in the leg, and a 15-year-old companion was struck in the stomach.  The suspects fled the scene and are still at large.

At a family memorial for young Davonte, accompanied by a poster that read “Black Kids Life Matters,” mourners called for an “end to ‘Black on Black’ violence and the need to take personal responsibility.”

One speaker said:

“It’s time for us to step up.”

Another added:

“We are the ones participating in drug selling, we are the ones who don’t have any youth programs in our community,”

Mourner Roosevelt Jones spoke of a “way out”:

“It’s called self-improvement.”

Jones told WDSU News:

“It’s another tragedy.  If we put in place the necessary action, we can change it.  Our youth are left idle, without much to do.  So you hear a lot of us saying, ‘Idle mind is the devil’s workshop.’

“So it is not that our children are bad.  It is that our children are untrained.”

Thomya Bryant, Devante’s cousin, has seen tragedy visit her family twice recently. 

Just last year, her sister was shot and killed. 

She said:

“I just want to say something to the parents. Get your kids. It’s no way little children should be killing little children.”

New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson called for an end to what he called “senseless violence” and “Black on Black” crime. 

Ferguson said to WAFB9,

“Anytime we, as a society, are talking about social justice versus social injustice, we as a community need to take a look at ourselves and what is it we are doing, what is it we are accepting as a norm that we should not be accepting as a norm.”

The message of personal responsibility and taking action within the community is echoed by John Ayala, grandfather of young Davon McNeal of Washington, DC.  Davon was shot and killed exiting a car at his aunt’s house.

Ayala called for a proactive approach to the increasing violence in his community:

“What I think we still need is more organizations, more of us, and when I say us, people in the black community, to start going into the communities and talking to people to prevent the violence that are occurring. 

“Also, we need to go into the communities after there is something tragic as a shooting, and mentor and talk to other young people in our community as well, so we can prevent it from happening in the future.  Not just protests when a police officer hurts someone that looks like me. “

 

Sobering statistics tell the sad story of black lives taking black lives.

According to 2018 data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nonfatal violent crimes against black people were committed by other black people 70.3% of the time.

Where homicides are concerned, the FBI reports that in 2018, the offender was black in 2,600 out of 2,925, or 89%, of homicide deaths of black victims.

One academic, though he took exception to the phrase “Black on Black Violence,” agreed with the mourners that all should care about the violence in the community. 

Assistant Professor at Rutgers School of Criminology, Michael Sierra-Arevalo, Ph.D., told WAFB9:

“I think we should begin to understand that violence is a problem that everyone should care about. White suburban communities should care about murders in black communities, as everyone should. 

“We know that it does, disproportionately, affect black communities and Latino communities but that doesn’t mean somehow the problem is less great or that the problem deserves less attention or that, for some reason, these communities bear more blame.”

Assistant Professor at the School of Social Welfare at University of California, Berkeley, Erin Kerrison, Ph.D, told WAFB9 that “it is crucial the community takes into account the circumstances of those committing crimes.”  

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He said:

“It’s not about the people in it. It’s about the context in which the people occupy the space and are clinging to survive. 

“This is a cultural question and culture gives rise to structural decisions. And it has nothing to do with whether you’re black or not. It has to do with what kind of chances you were offered and what kind of supports you were denied.”

As we previously reported, the Black Lives Matter movement has been silent on the loss of many black lives to murder, including those of children. 

Academic John McWhorter of Columbia University has approached in the past the stance of Black Lives Matter on black persons not killed in a police encounter:

“The reason Black Lives Matter has a lot of eyes rolling is not because people don’t care about black people and don’t understand the problem with police.

“The problem is that the typical black man in a particular kind of community is at much, much more risk of being killed by another black man. And you can’t argue it away. There are all these sophisticated feints such as saying that there’s a difference between the state murdering and citizens murdering. But none of it goes through.

“This high indignation about one white cop doing a terrible thing looks incongruous given that in these same communities, hundreds of black men are killing each other every summer.

“And so I think, in short, Black Lives Matter is very important. It could make a very important difference in modern black history. But for it to be a movement that resonates historically, it has to add a new wing where it firmly says and stands behind the idea that black lives matter when black people take them too.”

As communities grieve the loss of far too many innocent lives, it appears that many are willing to say that all black lives matter, rather than the ones handpicked by the BLM movement. 

They show desire to work proactively to save their children and their neighborhoods.  Time will tell whether grassroots support or even political clout will back them in their efforts.

 

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