by J. Pharoah Doss, For New Pittsburgh Courier
Here are two different responses to weekend violence. The first response was considered insensitive and the second response has been viewed as innovative.
Between 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, 2018 and 6 a.m. Monday, Aug. 6, 2018, 12 people were killed and 63 people were wounded. At the resulting news conference, Chicago’s then-mayor Rahm Emanuel warned the press his comments “may not be politically correct,” then stated, “we can’t shy away from a full discussion about the importance of family and faith helping to develop and nurture character, self-respect, and a value system and a moral compass that allows kids to know good from bad and right from wrong.” Mayor Emanuel also urged local residents to “be a neighbor,” to “speak up,” and help law enforcement pursue gang members, drug dealers, and killers.
But some Black leaders were offended.
The former president of Chicago’s Urban league stated she won’t accept “the victims of racist policies and bigoted practices being shamed by anyone who says they can do better.” And an Illinois Democratic state senator stated the mayor’s generalizations about the community were outright wrong, and curbing Chicago’s crime rate isn’t a matter of neighbors “ratting out one another” because “we have communities that have not been invested in…where mental health services have been depleted…combined with the closing of schools…what does one expect?”
Unless there’s community investment, Chicago residents can’t be expected to discuss values.
Over the first weekend of June 2019 the police responded to a deadly stabbing and eight shootings, 11 people were injured and two men were killed.
Baltimore’s mayor, Jack Young, said, “Gun violence has been plaguing the city for the last 10 years. The murder rate in this city and non-fatal shootings have increased. I’m not happy with it.” In response to a consensus for new methods to reduce gun violence, Mayor Young has proposed boxing matches. The mayor said, “We can have them in the civic center, put a boxing ring up and let them box it out…the best man wins and the beef should be over.”
“Guns Down, Gloves Up” is trending on Twitter.
One enthusiastic supporter said, “That is the best idea ever, because right now these kids don’t even know how to fight!” This supporter doesn’t realize the mayor is not starting a boxing program where kids will learn the sport. The mayor is just providing a place where disputes can be settled without guns in order to bring down the homicide statistics.
But the mayor overlooked one fact; the winner of the boxing match may have been wrong in the initial dispute. In that scenario, how does the best man win, when the winner takes all in boxing? This would promote the immoral concept that “might makes right” and create more retaliatory responses. (The Baltimore police department had no comment about the mayor’s boxing suggestion.)
During National Gun Violence Awareness Day, City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby addressed the state of violence in the city. She said, “It’s going to take all of us to change what’s happening and we can’t just count on the police…we can’t look to leadership in City Hall. The biggest and most important stakeholder in all of this is the community.”
Baltimore residents can’t look for leadership from City Hall.
(J. Pharoah Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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