Thursday, August 16, 2007

Newport News, VA - Stop the Violence Crusade

Angie Green of the Daily Press wrote a stirring news article, Worried residents march for peace, that brought a few questions and some not-so-politically-correct observations to my mind as I read the article. The article also brought to mind the question a friend of mine from work, a black American lady, asked me when the movie Boyz n the Hood came out on television. My friend asked me what I thought of the movie. After having watched the movie, my friend and I discussed the movie and our respective reactions to the movie. My response was candid in that I simply did not understand how citizens could or would allow their neighborhood to become over-run by gangs. Naturally, we began to focus on the black community and the white community and we both acknowledged that we could only view the situation depicted in the movie in a very "general" way - which always leads to simplification of sometimes very complex conditions. Further, Ms. Green's article called to mind James A. Michener's book, The Drifters. I was quite young when I read that book and I was startled by the dialogue between several policemen in New York City in response to a rash of gang killings taking place within a "ghetto." The consensus was that it would be too dangerous for the officers to go into the neighborhood because - similar to domestic disputes - the local citizens would turn on the officers - regardless of the officers' ethnicity - coming to quell the killings and so the killings would go on. Even in spite of innocent people being killed by the gang members, the neighborhood would "join hands" against the police and thereby protect the killers who were terrorizing the innocent neighbors - all black; the gangs and the innocents. My friend and I continued to discuss the movie and my response was essentially, I can't even identify with the innocent citizens in the "hood" because in a white community, traditionally, we just wouldn't let the gangs take over. We'd have the police on the gangs like "ducks on June bugs." We don't circle the wagons to protect the ones who terrorize us - period. We expect the police to make our streets safe; we do not align with the gangs under any circumstances and certainly not if we are the same ethnicity, meaning non-Hispanic white or Hispanic (which are whites who are Latino). Certainly there are mis-carriages of justice all across the "skin color" chart but, in my experience, white people expect the police to do the job they are paid to do, no exceptions. To step away from generalities for a moment, there is a Section 8 housing area near where I live. The citizens are of mixed ethnicities - they have a neighborhood watch that "stops crime dead in its tracks" and they don't care what color skin someone has. So why do some communities - innocent citizens - have their communities turned into "gang" havens with 22 homicides now, August 16, 2007 for the year? And other communities wage all out war against their communities being taken over? One thing could be that in the latter case, the community never lets the gangs get a foot-hold. The men in the community do their own "policing" in that they keep their neighborhood safe by letting criminals/gangs know that the community is not safe for the criminals - they can't hide behind skin-color in that given neighborhood. So why does it happen in some communities and not in others of the same general ethnicity? There was a time when the neighborhood was safe to drive through regardless of one's skin color; a friend of mine who lived in the specific neighborhood moved out decades ago because it was slowly turning into a haven for liscense for crime. Today, a white person who drives through the area in the daytime is not too bright; the same white person who drives through the area at night is a fool. From the article, "We are going to take our community back," march organizer Bishop Kendrick Turner prayed as the group held hands before the march. "We are going to stand for something." The community in question is rather large, once boasted of having a large Catholic high school, an established Jewish community with a Jewish school which students attended after attending "public" school, nice mom-and-pop stores and the area was generally integrated albeit in small sections but still with everyone living safely. What has changed? The march was brought together quickly following the slaying of a youth mentor, Leonard Carter, who was fatally shot Monday afternoon at a corner market. Why murder a man who is a mentor in the community? Why indeed? Was he bringing about change for the good? Over the decades the neighborhood has changed, people of all ethnicities who could have moved out, major stores have hestiated to locate in the area due to theft/shop-lifting that has closed other grocery stores. I saw that happen in my neighborhood when we had a grand grocery store with great produce, a fine deli counter, a wonderful bread and pastry section - Section 8 housing was built next door to the grocery store. Kids would go into the store in the summer with heavy parka-type coats on to get the "five finger" discounts. It wasn't long before our community lost the best grocery store we had ever enjoyed. I wish Bishop Turner well. The first step is that the community must set up many "neighborhood" watch groups and be ruthless in sticking together against the gang members who are terrorizing the neighborhood. The "neighborhood" watch groups must work with the police to bring the terrorizing gang members to justice, and for the sake of their community, get beyond "skin color" because for the criminals who killed Leonard Carter, skin color was certainly not an issue. In fact, I would hazard a guess that it is the very color of their skin that they safely hide behind knowing that their "skin color" has protected them and provided a cover for them against "the man." And perhaps it is their "skin color" that enables them to terrorize and victimize the elderly, the children, the moms and pops who try to make the community safe. Perhaps because of "skin color", the community has protected the gang members and the criminals - maybe it is the community that needs to step outside of that notion of "skin color" and call down the wrath of citizens, backed up by the police, who have had enough, who want to live in safety, and deserve to be able to have safe streets where folks can walk to the corner market on a cool evening, can sit on their porches, and visit in safety. A community can't cry "foul" when the police try to do their job and then castigate the very same police when crime increases. Ya can't have it both ways. Just to put this homicide rate in perspective, last year there were 11 homicides in the entire city of Newport News at this time. Today there are 22, the most recent being Leonard Carter, a mentor for the community's youth. Mr. Carter must have been making a difference; he must have been leading the youth away from crime and toward dreams fulfilled. Leonard Carter must have been quite a man - a good man who gave his life for his community. The community cannot let that murder stand; the community must take this "bull by the horns" and ensure that this violence is stopped.


Blogger S said...

BG, you are preaching to the choir. The people who read your blog all understand this quite well (with a few possible exceptions), but it is the folks whole live in the 'hood, and who don't read your blog, that don't understand this simple logic. This sort of race-based thinking, the idea that the white man is the root of all of their problems and that they must be united against the white man, even when he is their best protection, is deeply ingained in most black people. It has been taught and bred into them since infancy, and it will not be changed easily. It is a part of their cherished victim status, and they don't want to part with that either, because eventually they will have to start taking responsibility for themselves if they give up all of these myths. For most of them, that is just too much. A little violence is an acceptable price to pay if they can keep their self respect by blaming their problems all on "the man."

3:35 PM  
Blogger Mr Minority said...

I think you nailed it, in that it isn't the color of the people's skin that make the difference, it is the attitude. If the people in the neighborhood are not willing to stand up to the thugs or willing to cooperate with the police, then the thugs win. But when they do, the thugs lose. It never has been color, race or religion, it is attitude.

Mr Minority

2:18 PM  
Blogger Yankee Doodle said...

There are a great many underlying similarities between that and the jihad issue.

Many Muslims know what a threat the terrorists are, yet they feel atomized and look the other way. Still others feel it is their job to side with their fellow Muslims, even though they are criminals, rather than befriending an infidel.

And, for our part, we seem just as inept at dealing with crime as we are at dealing with terrorism.

8:33 PM  
Blogger kipwatson said...

I think you make too much of the specific race of the criminals in your area, although I agree with your point generally. It sounds like parts of the USA are a unique environment, where criminal activity is unusually concentrated in Black communities. This is an untypical situation, I don't think you can draw too many conclusions from it. Ethnic enclaves of almost any kind are a likely source of crime, particularly where you have Leftist propaganda and cultural mythologising (music and movies etc) directed at minorities telling them they are a victimised class, hated and downtrod by their Anglo Saxon masters.

(A bitterly ironic narrative considering the Anglo Saxons within the British class system have themselves lived for nearly a thousand years under the domination of a ruling class with foreign origins.)

Here in Australia we have watched helplessly in recent years as organised crime has become more an more established, but there is no particular phenomenon of Black gangs over here (there are bands of teenage toughs, but they are not real criminal organisations).

In fact, the Africans are a pretty laid-back group, as are many nationalities. Non-Lebanese Arabs, Greeks, Indians, Anglo-Saxons (of course) all strike me as peaceful and law-abiding, and probably many others.

In our diverse gangland you will find European 'wogs' of various sorts -- the Sicilians and Southern Italians have long extensively represented (they virtually run entire industries here) as well as Eastern Europeans -- and Chinese, Lebanese and such. And there are also many 'white' crime families, but with names like Moran, Murphy, Lough they are all basically Irish.

I hear rumours there are also powerful and ruthless Jewish crime gangs (which would make sense), but they are so well-connected as to be almost invisible.

The cops here do f-all about it. The Labor party dominates this state, so the politicians are more interested in pandering to these groups than policing them. Besides, the Trade Unions, who entirely control the Labor party, are in cahoots with certain crime groups, especially those who control the property development industry.

I hate them. I would love to see Iraqi-style militias of the law-abiding strike down these wicked men, but that simply isn't going to happen.

What does a man do? Who has power over the hearts of his fellows?

I pity the people in US communities that have been overrun by gangs. In my experience, nothing most ordinary folk did or didn't do has caused this problem. Did the many good, churchgoing, Irish Catholic families cause criminality in their neighbours simply by being Irish?

11:16 PM  
Blogger Beach Girl said...

To all: thank you for such thoughtful comments. I agree with Mr. M, that it is an "attitude" thing. As I mentioned in my post, generalities always lead one into over-simplification. Yes, all groups over time have had "gangs" - and no, I'm not making too much of the "situtation" rather close to my area.

I have listened to black politicians remark on the inability to bring "good" chain-stores, leading stores into their "communities" for better jobs for locals because of the theft, etc.

I do believe that the issue of crime needs to be discussed by all "ethnic" groups (I laugh to myself today that "black" defines the ethnic group of a person born to a white mother and a black Muslim father such as Barack Obama but I suppose he is playing on the "attitude" thing too.

S - it is difficult to set aside one's "victim status" as we have seen from New Orleans and Katrina. Well, when the "hated" white man is way into minority status, will we still be blamed? That can go on only so much longer. Eh!

Thank you all. As you can tell, I have been taking some down-time for the past few days. Sometimes one just has to sit back and work on some mind-distracting counted cross stitch.

9:08 AM  

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