Mitchell: Black leaders must show some outrage over gun violence

SHARE Mitchell: Black leaders must show some outrage over gun violence

The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Monday called on President Barack Obama to address police abuse.
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It is difficult for the average person to stay worked up over the blistering report by the Police Accountability Task Force when a 1-year-old child is shot in the neck while riding in a car with her family.

We may care that bad cops are abusing innocent people. Some of us may even care that police are abusing bad people.

But taking that concern to the next level by agitating for aggressive reforms in the Chicago Police Department is a huge challenge.

For instance, on Saturday afternoon, one person was shot near 71st and Jeffrey, only a block from where police officers have held outside roll calls in recent months.

In North Lawndale, a man described by family and friends as “a good person” who “worked every day” and “wasn’t up to nothing,” was fatally shot early Sunday morning.

Fredrick Lee Blount, 32, was the father of a 12-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter.

Two other people were killed and 32 others were wounded over the weekend.

If any of these shootings had occurred at the hands of police, protesters would have taken to the streets.


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While many advocates of police reform are adamant that police shootings are a separate matter, you can’t ignore the gun violence that has contributed to the heavy-handed approach by police officers.

After all, when the head of the Fraternal Order of Police, Dean Angelo Sr., calls communities terrorized by gun violence “neighborhoods of crime,” it shows a callous disregard for the law-abiding people living in those communities.

On Monday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson came close to linking these issues when he called on President Barack Obama to address police abuse.

“This rises to the level of intervention. [President Obama] came and spoke to police chiefs a few months ago. I’m urging him to come to Englewood or Roseland or Lawndale, the scene of the crime because we need more than just the absence of police crime,” Jackson said.

The civil rights leader called on the city to “re-negotiate the city’s labor contract; release all police crime scene video and incident reports in a timely fashion; make filing a false report by a police officer a felony; and for the abolition of the Independent Police Review Authority.”

“We need targeted jobs and training in skilled trades. Englewood, Roseland and Lawndale are worse off than they were seven years ago,” he said.

In 2014, Obama launched “My Brother’s Keeper” to address what he described as “opportunity gaps,” noting that too many young black males are falling into the criminal justice system.

“The disproportionate number of African-American and Hispanic young men who are unemployed or involved in the criminal justice system undermines family and community stability and is a drag on state and federal budgets. And young men of color are far more likely to be victims of murder than their white peers, accounting for almost half of the country’s murder victims each year,” the president said in a memorandum establishing the initiative.

Jackson wants the president to address the urban blight as well.

“We need jobs, trades skill training, a plan for urban reconstruction. You bailed out the banks and locked out the homeowners. There is an urban crisis in America today, both in terms of crime by the people as well as crime by the police,” Jackson added. “We need an urban policy. Long as you have jobs out, drugs and guns in, the result is the high level of crime. It is not just the crime, it is the scene in which the crime is taking place.”

But until black leadership becomes as bold when addressing the violence African-Americans are inflicting on each other as they are when confronting the police abuse, little will change.

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