Too many tears are falling, and too many city sidewalks are stained with blood as countless families mourn the loss of youth and bury the victims of inner-city violence. Miles and miles of column inches in the press and along the superhighway have been spent informing the electronic media and the general public about the senseless deaths of those gunned down in urban areas.
“As rapper Saigon pointed out, what we have here is a generation who feel that they are an ‘abandoned nation,’ so they act outside the normalized parameters because they feel that those who should care and guide and nurture simply do not,” observed New Jersey activist Divine Allah.
Next Monday (November 23) is the National Day of Outrage, activists and communities from the East to the West Coast, Southern and Midwest states et al will join with Rev. Al Sharpton and National Action Network (NAN), to call attention to what Sharpton calls the “nationwide epidemic of violence in urban communities.”
Divine Allah, who is also the youth minister of the New Black Panther Party, added, “Our outrage on this day must encompass acknowledging all the elements that lead us to have the social issues that lead to the senseless acts of violence that we find are being committed within the inner city and beyond. There is a direct correlation with the bloodshed to the high levels of unemployment, poverty, miseducation, racism and white supremacy that permeates every aspect of Black life in America.
The more we try to deny that white supremacy and racism exists, the greater the detrimental effects of how both impact our communities.
“The young people who perpetrate the violence or are victims of it–they are only responding to a greater symptom that never gets addressed, which is their sense of abandonment by an adult population in authority that refuses to acknowledge the role that miseducation, unemployment and poverty have played in creating their condition.”
The shooters have been reckless and wayward; and their bullets have been indiscriminate–the victims ranging from babies just trying to enjoy the wonders of the world and just trying to reach 4-years-old like Brooklyn’s Tajmere Clarke; to Sadie Mitchell, 92, a Bronx grandmother of the block watching TV at home when she was shot; to 13-year-old Kevin Miller, who was shot on his way to a Queens’ McDonald’s; to 15-year-old Vada Vasquez, who was shot on her way home from school in the Bronx just this past Monday.
Sharpton will participate in the Day of Outrage in Atlanta, Ga., where Jasmine Lynn, a 19-year-old Spelman College sophomore was shot and killed while walking on the Clark Atlanta University campus in September.
“We must be just as vigilant against the shootings that are random, gang-related or intentional, because we are in a crisis state and too many lives are being forsaken. We’ve got to come together across all lines to fight this battle,” said Sharpton.
“You cannot be a leader in any respective field–from elected official, community organizer, member of the clergy to a teacher, doctor or lawyer–if you are not involved in the issue of ending youth and gang violence in our community,” chided Tamika Mallory, the National Day of Outrage organizer and national executive director of NAN. “Unless we come together, the situation will be beyond our control!”
“Kids have too much access to guns and it all starts at home. Parents need to be parents. They need to know what their kids are doing. If you think you know your child is doing wrong, check on them,” said Donna Greaves, the mother of 13-year-old Kevin Miller who, was hit by a stray bullet on his way home from school. Ms. Greaves will be among the numerous families who will participate in the New York event.
“Shooting in the crowd and killing a 13-year-old child ain’t gangster,” declared Christopher Foye as he continues to establish a foundation in his son’s name. Chris Owens was killed last spring at an outdoor barbecue in Harlem. His father plans to be at the rally in Times Square at 2 p.m. on Monday.
“Vada Vasquez is one more name to add to the list of innocent victims of gun-wielding criminals,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz. “Although the statistics show that the number of shootings is down, I certainly believe that there are still too many. Just in our borough, we can remember the names of recent victims, like Sadie Mitchell and Aisha Santiago. We need to do more to stop this nonsense. Let’s all pray for the life of this young girl.”
Erica Ford, CEO and founder of Life Camp Inc. and creator of the Bury Da Beef campaign, has long advocated for young people in the inner cities. “It takes a village to save a child!” she declares. “The strength that breathes inside of us beats the madness of society. We achieve great success when we don’t accept old, bad habits as normal behavior. Love your life!”
Sharpton said he met recently in Chicago, Ill., with parents of students at Fenger High School who say the school has been like a “war zone” since a 16-year-old student, Derrion Albert, was beaten to death after school on September 24.
In search of a solution, City Councilman Charles Barron demanded the federal government take immediate action.
“The same way President Obama bailed out those big banks and firms on Wall Street with over $850 billion, he needs to bail out 125th Street, Fulton Street and Pitkin Avenue, and blocks in the inner cities across the nation,” stormed Barron. “They are suffering from the results of high unemployment, poverty and neglect. Just like they had a Marshall Plan to bail out Western Europe, we need a Martin Luther King Plan to bail out inner-city and rural communities in America.”
Barron continued, “Obama could have balanced the state budget deficits across this nation if he had bailed out the states, and it would have cost us half of what they used to bail out Wall Street, the automobile industry and continued wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. If he had given us that bailout then we wouldn’t have had to cut any services, which detrimentally affects the poor.”
As he prepared for the funeral for Amal McLean, the 21-year-old unarmed man shot and killed while in handcuffs by an undercover Essex County police officer, New Black Panther activist Zayid Muhammad, national minister of culture, told the AmNews. “The so-called anti-violence [movement] is rampant with opportunism–people posturing as leaders for protesting the behavior of the oppressed without a strategy for their liberation. Meanwhile, compromised careerist Black mayors and others are buying into the dangerous doctrine of post-racialism, and they are the Black faces being used to do nothing about our conditions and to legitimize the gentrification of our communities.”
“The sense of abandonment the youth speaks of is real,” said Divine Allah. “A classic example of abandonment in Newark, N.J., is the Boys and Girls Club named after Shaquille O’Neal. It is sitting there closed and empty. Children see this here and in other cites–vacant buildings that they could use as safe and positive venues for growth and development, for conflict resolution, safe havens, recreation centers and youth-friendly outlets with house programs to help the young people to express their energy and talents. Instead, the young people recognize that somebody somewhere does not care about them and they act out on this.
“So groups like LifeCamp Inc. and Man Up are formed to step in and repair the breach–which means we have to fix the disconnect and reconnect our beautiful youth with their courageous potential.”
Allah proudly lists a number of individuals and organizations that he says are doing the work from the ground up: “There’s Jasiri X and Paradise Gray and their One Hood out of Pittsburgh; and Newark, New Jersey’s Zayid Muhammad and the New Black Panther Party, and Ras Baraka of the Anti-Self-Genocide/Stop the Violence campaign; the Street Warriors; Sister SeeAsia of the Nation of Gods and Earths; Kalonji Jama Changa and the FTP Movement; 10,000 Strong out of Boston; Cease Fire out of Chicago; and Stop Shooting Inc. out of New Jersey.
“One of the main goals of the Anti-Self-Genocide campaign is to get the mayor and the governor to treat this like a state of emergency, and give organizations like these real access to the schools and youth-orientated programs, to engage the young people.
“These children need real examples of leaders who offer spiritual, cultural, educational, social and political growth and development–leaders such as the Dr. Joy Leary-DeGruy, Min. Farrakhan, Dr. Laila Afrika, Queen Afua and Councilman Charles Barron, and others who offer a thorough and relevant frame of reference for us to build upon without interference from the powers-that-be.”
East New York activist Kevin McCall is heated. He told the AmNews, “I will be joining Rev. Al Sharpton and other community leaders on the Day of Outrage because in the last past two months, I have attended 15 funerals due to violence. I never get used to going to funerals because it is sickening to my stomach the way youth is killing each other everyday. I am sick and tired of doing vigils, marches and complaining of the lack of services. I am demanding that the mayor stops cutting our services in the urban community.”
McCall warned, “In the near future, I am going to protest at his house to send a clear message that [says]: ‘You are the mayor for four more years and we are pissed and fed up of you cutting jobs and services!’ I am calling on the Black church to show themselves mighty and strong. If it is not us killing us, then it is the police; if it is not police, it is the mayor doing what he does best: playing politics over people. We need jobs to support ourselves during this time of recession. We are angry!”