The shootings just keep coming.
by Chuck Ramsay
If Casey Kasem were still alive and on the airwaves, we just might be hearing this as his lead-in to another radio show as the gunfire continues to ring out across this nation, “From coast-to-coast, the shootings just keep coming!”
It seems killing each other has become popular sport across our nation in general and the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County in particular. So far, since January, 2015, 109 people have been murdered in our community - as of this posting.
It’s very disturbing. Yes, there is black on black crime; and there is white on white crime; and let’s not forget the crossover of blacks killing whites and whites killing blacks, as well as other combinations of ethnic violence - whether it is in the commission of a burglary, a drug deal gone bad, a mentally-disturbed person killing for killing’s sake, or a racist hate crime as we saw in Charleston, SC most recently. But there is another category - and this one is even more unnecessary to my way of thinking - but becoming commonplace nonetheless. That’s the killing of unarmed African Americans and others by police officers, who often claim they feared for their safety as, in several cases, they shot and killed their victims with hands up or running away from them. The fact of the matter is, whoever it is that kills another human being, it doesn't matter. It's just as wrong when over zealous and out of control policeman kills an unarmed citizen as it is when a criminal kills one of their victims. Violence does not solve one problem one bit.
The very recent case of Sandra Bland, the young African American woman pulled over by a Texas State Trooper for making a lane change without signaling, and then her “arrest” recorded on video, shows one more officer losing control and escalating the situation. Ms. Bland was found dead in her jail cell three days later. Had it been a white woman pulled over, I believe it would be safe to say she would have made bail, given a ticket and had her day in court before resuming a normal life. Yes, our police officers (most of them are honorable people who handle their jobs professionally) deserve to go home safe each night. We all deserve to go home safe at the end of our shifts. But for those who have been hired to keep the peace and do not conduct themselves professionally, instead choose to exhibit their prejudices, hatred and violence on the job, well, they should not be on the job. We desperately need reform in our law enforcement ranks, and a higher standard to remove this random and ill-deserved violence.
We are witnessing more and more attacks based on racism; mostly against the poor and the educationally disadvantaged, those least equipped to deal with this type of confrontation. If a white person is the culprit, they are usually characterized by the media as mentally-ill. If it is a black person, they are called a thug. We need police officers who once again protect and serve, who know and are known in their communities, and who are not being used as revenue generators for a hungry municipal court system. Meanwhile a Civilian Oversight Board, that could provide some control over police actions and voted into existence by the Aldermanic Board and approved by the Mayor, is stalled in its formation for what appears to be political reasons.
As the murder rate has skyrocketed in the St. Louis area, many have called for an increased effort to halt the killings, reduce the crime, and go for the jugular of that crime - poverty, almost non-existent job opportunities among African American in north St. Louis, and similarly lacking educational resources for inner city children. Chief among those calling for action has been City Alderman Antonio D. French (25th Ward). You can see his recommendations for a solution HERE and HERE.
It should be noted, as well, that the Missouri State Legislature, over the past few years, has worked diligently to make it easier for guns to fall into the hands of felons, those with mental health issues, and those are known to have anger and violence histories. As an elected body, voters would be well-served to learn who they are and help remove violent crime from our neighborhoods by not electing them to another term.
St. Louis’s Mayor Francis G. Slay has recently announced a plan to combat the rise in the City’s murder rate, but it appears to be extremely lacking in addressing the root causes of increased shootings in St. Louis by all factions. There is even one components that states once the Police can identify a suspected shooter or criminal, they will then identify his or her relatives and turn their water off as a method of retribution and control. See some details reported HERE.
And the shootings just keep coming.
African Americans are mad, and they should be. So are many St. Louisans, more safely tucked in at night in the suburbs. Systematic oppression by a white, but seemingly growing, minority in America has kept the promise of American democracy and equality out of the reach of a majority of African Americans since the Emancipation Proclamation with the quick transition to sharecropping and cruel Jim Crow laws - the unspoken tact of continued slavery (just in new clothing).
Look back over the past few years. For many it began with Travon Martin being gunned down for no more than walking home and being black by a self-appointed vigilante who was told not to carry a gun (he did) and not to pursue Martin, to let the police handle it (he didn’t). Martin was killed by Zimmerman in cold blood. And the shootings just keep coming. And murders of unarmed individuals by the police - on the scene and in custody - just keep coming. As an aside, Zimmerman has been arrested and charged on other violent offenses since then, but never indicted or convicted.
How can we stop this? I’d like to hear what you have to say. What is the solution?
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