If powerful men will not write justice with black ink on white paper, ignorant and violent men will write it on the soil in letters of blood and ultimately their rude legislation with burning castles, palaces and towns.
So goes the adage by abolitionist Theodore Parker in “A Sermon of Poverty” and so goes the state of violent crime in Detroit today.
It is a state that is handicapping the future of our children and making Detroit once again what it was tagged before: the murder capital of the world.
I am upset at the hypocrisy of leadership in this city that is enabling the insanity of violence to permeate every corner of Detroit, from those who represent us in government to the ones who call themselves holding government accountable.
I write not as a journalist who is charged with reporting and documenting events for posterity, but as a father who wants his son and all children in Detroit regardless of where they live to grow up in an environment that enables them to positively develop and find a sense of sanity and achievement.
That their lives will not be cut short at the start or peak of their productivity, like the 15-year-old honor student, Avondre Donel, killed on Mother’s Day in an apparent drive-by shooting, 17-year-old Jarean Blake gunned down in front of a liquor store while standing with his girlfriend, or 7-year-old Aiyana Jones shot by police during a raid while peacefully sleeping at her home. Police say they were seeking the capture of the suspect in Blake’s death who was found in the same apartment where little Aiyana lived. But family members are giving a different side to the story, one that contradicts the account of the police, with the hiring of attorney Geoffrey Fieger.
Prior to this recent wave of killing, including the death of police officer Brian Huff, we’ve also witnessed other murders around the city, some taking place in broad daylight.
And for some reason the only prescription offered as a panacea to this madness is often a press conference and nothing more. As expected, reporters attend with tape recorders and notepads in hand, cameramen show up, and we get dumped upon with canned statements from officialdom.
But we rarely see a pragmatic plan of action that curbs violent crime and parents seldom see hope or even have faith in the institution of government that is supposed to protect them. Worst of all, by the end of one press conference, another violent crime is being committed. A child’s life has been taken away and helpless parents are left without an option because their future has been gutted.
Do we have reason to have faith in those who are being charged with the sacred responsibility of protecting us and managing the affairs of the city?
I’m still rubbing my head for an answer. Mayor Dave Bing should have been at Jones’ house minutes after her death.
New published reports allege that the fired shot that killed Aiyana Jones came from police officer Joseph Weekley. He is accused in a 2009 federal lawsuit of being part of a group of officers that broke into a home, shot two dogs and pointed a gun at children, including an infant.
If that is true, this underscores the need for a strong Justice Department review of police dealings with residents given the already established consent decree over the Detroit Police Department that is costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
In the community I find little outrage at the number of children who are been murdered right before our eyes. If the victims are not attached to prominence or the media is not driving the story, there is little concern for the next life taken away no matter the fact that all children deserve the right to life.
All of a sudden there is a knee-jerk reaction to what is currently happening with every so-called community leader offering their self-righteous plan for arresting violence in Detroit. Some of these leaders who wield enormous influence in the community understand the modus operandi of the media, and are now offering quotable quotes for stories on the recent tragedies.
But what happened when students were literary being fired at during daylight hours at a gas station?
Do these leaders really care about the crime against children in this community, or is this one of those moments where such tragedies playing out in the media allows them to reinvent themselves and the image of their groups?
How many more children are we willing to bury in Detroit before community activists, leaders of organizations and churchmen and churchwomen finally agree to map out a detailed plan against violence?
The next victim does not have to belong to a prominent church, come from an influential background or become the subject of incessant media coverage before we develop a creed against violence and commit to it.