[Speaking Truth To Power]
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake rightly spoke about the “lack of jobs, housing challenges, education and disparities in opportunity” in Black America which creates the volatile situation that leads to high crime and violence.
She spoke Wednesday before the National Press Club, in Washington D.C., about the state of affairs in Black communities, like Baltimore, which became a flashpoint for the national conversation regarding racial policing—especially, after the eruption of an urban rebellion in the aftermath of the Freddie Gray police killing.
Economic neglect surely lies at the heart of most of the crime problem in Black America, so why aren’t “law and order” politicians addressing the problem of unemployment?
In her speech, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, highlighted much of the work she has been doing as the President of United Conference of Mayors which released their Compact for a Better America: A 2016 Call to Action, and initiative aimed to push federal lawmakers to act on policies geared towards helping those who live in big cities.
However, given the gridlock that has become routine in Congress, getting action on proposals that will help alleviate problems in urban America, especially in Black communities, will require intense political pressure. Republicans, in particular, are much more interested in continuing partisan political attacks against Hillary Clinton and entities like Planned Parenthood; witness Carly Fiorina’s wicked lies at the second GOP presidential debate.
During the mayor’s appearance, she responded to questions about the violence that engulfed Baltimore in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray whose spine was severed by the actions of police—who decided to arrest him because he made “eye contact” and allegedly “ran away” from police.
“The aftermath points to deeper underlying issues, like lack of jobs, housing challenges, education and disparities in opportunity,” Rawlings-Blake said. “Frustrations we’ve seen in the community. We’ve been living with it for decades.”
Indeed, urban neglect and economic strangulation epitomize the primary problems that spawns the crime that politicians, and police apologists like to harp on whenever the issue of racist police brutality comes up. We heard it from many mayors and politicians who talk about the “crime problem” in Black communities—as justification for the heavy-handed racist manner in which they police Black America.
Mayor Rawlings-Blake also said this regarding her effort to reform her police department “The mayors across the country have watched the work I’ve done pushing for reform in the police department, mayors across the country have watched me vote for a more level playing field holding officers that have been accused or have been found guilty of wrongdoing accountable.”
Indeed, the main problem with police violence against Black people is that prosecutors and politicians turn the other way in the face of these egregious actions. To her credit Mayor Rawlings-Blake is one of the only elected officials who stated that police who “engage in brutality, misconduct, racism and corruption” should find employment outside of the police department.
If only we had more politicians willing to tell it like this to those thug elements wearing police uniforms.
For over a year, since the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, we witnessed many cases of outright racist brutal behavior by law enforcement officers all over this country. Yet, we’ve heard hardly a whisper from our political leaders. Moreover, we hear very little from Congress on this serious matter—while they have inordinate amounts of time to tell us about the latest on their investigation in Benghazi.
Examine, for a minute, the hypocrisy of these Republicans who tell us they need to get to the bottom of why four Americans died during the 2012 attacks on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Surely, any responsible leader should investigate the killing of any innocent American. But why is it these same Republicans don’t give a damn about all the equally dead Black Americans who have died unjustly by the hands of police?
Think of this, besides a few positive things said by Senator Rand Paul, not one Republican politician, running for the White House in 2016, has said anything substantial about addressing the institutional racism that lies at the heart of the problems with police. In fact, we have heard them, slanderously, attack the Black Lives Matter Movement—saying their righteous activism is the cause of attacks on police. They told us—if we were listening—that they don’t intend to do anything to stop the racist brutal policing that have taken the lives of people like Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott and so many others.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, in the last Republican Primary debate, accused New York Mayor Bill de Blasio of hampering the job of the NYPD, because, presumably, everything was just fine with things like Stop-and-Frisk and the racial quota practices the NYPD engages in. Someone should tell the governor to clean up the cesspool of corruption his administration is embroiled in regarding the George Washington Bridge scandal. No wonder his campaign is stuck in pre-school poll numbers.
Mayor Rawlings-Blake also called on those running for president in 2016 to address this pressing problem between the police and Black America. Unfortunately, we can safely say none of those who are polling high on the Republican side is interested in dealing with this problem—since they have all pretty much said the only problem they see is people who show no respect for “law and order.”
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has given us some good sound bites. But can Black America really trust her commitment to battle on this topic? We need no even bother talking about former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Under his watch, over-policing with no real movement to tackle the economic strangulation of Black people in areas like Baltimore seems to be the result of this supposed “progressive” politician.
In fact, the only one we can really trust to fight to do something is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who has a history for fighting for Civil Rights and who has been more vocal recently regarding his plans for dismantling the institutional racism that lies at the heart of the problems between African-Americans and police.
2016 is fast approaching, and soon the Presidential Elections will move into overdrive. Black America must start forcing politicians to take a stand on this issue. This means we must hold every politicians feet to the fire on what needs to be done to provoke change within America’s police departments.
We must demand Democrats and Republicans to clearly delineate where they stand. Wishy washy statements and silence can no longer be tolerated. Too many lives have been lost for us to allow this.
In fact, some Democrats must be punished for their betrayal of our interests. Let’s remember it was Democrats like Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Senator Claire McCaskill who rubberstamped the appointing of prosecutor Bob McCulloch to oversee the Michael Brown grand jury—and the sham proceedings that followed.
White “progressives” and Black do-littles must also be called out. Many of these “progressives” had no problem excoriating President Obama for not being progressive enough. Yet, many of these same folks could never find their tongues when he was being bombarded with racist attacks.
Moreover, many are just as silent when racist White police are brutalizing and murdering Black people. In the upcoming Democratic debates, candidates must be made to outline their program for restructuring the police—and criminal justice system.
Black America must force media-gatekeepers to ask these questions in the debates. Especially, since in the two Republican debates only one question was asked regarding the police, and that was not from the news organization that is supposedly the “most trusted name in news.”