Tonight, thanks to an article written by David Gayle that I found over at Politc365, I want to put some focus on black on black killings.
"The very first mention of Philadelphia in the national news for 2012 was not very encouraging. We actually made number one in a significant statistical category, but it’s nothing to write home about. Residents of the City of Brotherly Love murder each other more often than anyone else in America’s ten largest cities.
Heck, the mayor of Washington, D.C. is already bragging about losing the “murder capital” status to Philly, and using it to push his public safety agenda. When the numbers were announced last Friday, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray called a press conference, where he crowed, “The days when the District was known as the nations ‘Murder Capital’ are long behind us, and the plans we are announcing today will enable our police to continue this progress.”
There were 324 homicides in Philadelphia last year, up from 306 in 2010. Sure, that’s down from 2007’s high water mark of 391, but 324 murders in one year is ridiculous no matter how you parse the numbers.
As if to drive that point home for the nonbelievers, already there were six murders in 2012, and we’re only a couple of days into the new year.
About 85 percent of those murdered were young Black men, almost the exact percentage of the murderers themselves. Simply put, young Philadelphians are so hopeless and filled with shortsighted desperation that they’ve engaged in what could well be the first case of self-inflicted genocide in human history.
Our young men are willfully doing what nearly a hundred years of Ku Klux Klan raids could not do — what the night riders, cross burners and skinheads have only dreamed of in their wildest fantasies: the slow, deliberate extermination of the Black race.
Think about it for a minute. For every murder, there are two Black men taken out of the picture: the victim, who was deprived of life itself, and the killer, who is then deprived of any chance at a productive life by rotting in prison for dozens of years. Two sets of children are deprived of their fathers. How many of those children will then grow up in poverty and despair, repeating the same cycle of victim/perpetrator for yet another generation?
Fortunately, these facts are not foreign to the powers that be. In his second inaugural speech Monday morning, Mayor Michael Nutter called the phenomenon of young Black boys murdering each other “the epidemic not sufficiently talked about.”
Nutter is brainstorming with city, state and federal law enforcement agencies to come up with a strategy for combating handgun violence. Handguns are the weapons of choice for urban killing, used in more than four out of five of last year’s 324 Philadelphia murders.
The devil, as always, is in the details.
Any solution will require an entire sea change, a paradigm shift on two fronts: first, laws must be changed or amended to specifically target people who have no business with guns.
Not as easy as it sounds, given that anywhere outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, you’ll be hard pressed to find even a handful of state legislators willing to talk about gun control. Our local leaders have tried for years to implement common sense controls in Philadelphia, only to be shouted down by the rural gun nuts that hate Philadelphia anyway, and don’t much care if Black folk shoot each other until the cows come home.
The second hurdle, sadly, is internal. There are those among us — decent, enlightened, aware Black people — who bristle immediately at any notion that part of the blame lies squarely on our kids and what influences them. This is a mistake, because burying our heads in the sand won’t help them. They need to understand that their future (and ours) lies in their hands, and that future is determined by whether they’re carrying a book — or carrying a gun.
Sure, you can blame the white man for manufacturing all those guns, and legislators for allowing the guns to proliferate in the Black community — but while that’s true, we have to admit, at least to ourselves, that it isn’t the whole story.
White men are not driving in from the suburbs to gun down our children every weekend in our communities. State legislators are not shooting up bars, nightclubs, bowling alleys and house parties in Black neighborhoods.
Our children are doing that. The mayor was right when he correctly identified it as an epidemic. And it’s up to us — all of us — to stop it." [Source]
Because of my criminal law practice, I always have to be careful when talking about crime in Philadelphia. But I have to give the author credit for not only writing about the problem but offering solutions as well.
Still, I would like to add a couple: There has to be a rethinking of the drug laws in this country. Most of the murders in Philadelphia are committed because of drug turfs, the drug trade,or money associated with the trade. Drug dealers do not form commercial contracts, they do not take their disputes to court; they settle scores and disputes in the streets. Drug dealing can be profitable because A-merry-cans love their drugs. (When was the last time you saw a drug dealer offer a two for one sale?) Laws to decriminalize certain drugs, and offering alternative sentencing for users could put a serious dent in the profit margins on the street.
Finally, our urban schools should have programs in place to address anger and behavioral issues with some of these young black males. If the schools don't have the resources, black men who consider themselves positive role models should find the time to volunteer.
They should find the time to teach them the importance of reacting in the right way to a perceived diss. They should teach them how to control their anger, and to make them understand that reacting without thinking can bring a lifetime of terrible things. And, as the author alluded to, carrying a book is much easier than carrying a gun.
I agree with you Mayor Nutter, it is an epidemic "not sufficiently talked about". But folks like me will keep talking, because at some point someone will have to listen.