On a fall afternoon in 2012, just days before the Halloween celebration, two African-American teenaged boys covered their faces with bandanas like western bandits complete with pistols. Their guise was no costume, but mere tools and accoutrements to their way of life. Their intention was not of traditional “trick or treating” but to commit a serious felony offense.
Calvin Ward and Lamunta Williams selected a home on E18th Street and then proceeded to commit a home invasion style robbery. They forced their way into the home; upon finding the owner of the home they beat him with pistols in hand. They made off with some electronics and cash. Their getaway was short lived as both suspects were apprehended by Chattanooga Police just blocks away from the scene.
As of this day neither of these young men have stood trial, and nor will they ever stand trial for their brutality.
On March 5, 2013 Lamunta Williams and a few others decided to ditch school and go to an abandoned house not far from Howard High School. The house had become something of a club house or hang out, but on this day it would be where Lamunta would die. A previous altercation provoked Courtney Birt to seek Williams out that day and shoot him.
Flash forward to December 2013, Chattanooga Police respond to the Bi-lo on Hwy 58 and find a young black male dead inside a vehicle with a gun close by. The young man was later identified as Calvin Ward. As the events unfolded it was determined that Ward was not the victim, but the suspect. The victim in the case made arrangements to meet Ward to purchase electronic tablets. Mr. Ward had no intention of making a sale, just collecting profit. Ward tried to rob the victim and was shot and killed in the process.
These stories are just one of many that seem to be a rising trend over the last couple of years in Chattanooga and many just see it as just another story of “black on black” violence. While the police have had their hands full, I continue to wonder why others have not been getting their hands dirty. My question continues to remain: Where is outrage from the black community?
On July 20, 2013 hundreds gathered in downtown Chattanooga, some held signs others chanted as they marched through the streets. Maybe this was a march for Ladarius Daniel a 21-year-old black male found shot to death on July 5? Maybe it was a march for the violence and death of African Americans that had been murdered up to that point in 2011. African Americans like Demetrius Davis, Alexis Lewis, Wendell Washington, Desmond McClure, Charleston Beard, Eric Fluellen, Lamunta Williams, Lucius Moss, Terry Parker, Timothy Bumpass or Edward Glenn. This march was for none of them. This march was for a young African American boy that was shot and killed some 600 miles away in Sanford, Fla. My question is “Why?”
Ash-lee Woodard Henderson and her group Concerned Citizens for Justice took to social media and took to the streets when George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder. Meetings were held, marches were orchestrated but none of this for problems that exist in her own community. It’s like a patient having brain cancer and the doctor is operating on the foot, what sense does that make?
Less than a month after the march in Chattanooga another African American is found dead. This time 15-year-old Ollie Peters is found shot in front of a house. No march held, no vigil, no mention of it on the Concerned Citizens for Justice Facebook page. Ollie Peters case remains open, yet you say you are concerned for justice? I wonder if Ms. Henderson and her group would care if it was revealed that a white man killed any of these Africans Americans? I am almost certain that a rally and march would be held if Ollie Peters had been shot and killed by police.
In 2011 there were 25 homicides reported in the city of Chattanooga. Twenty-two of the victims were African Americans. The black community and their leaders were virtually silent. What would break their silence? On a July night three white men one of which was a Hamilton County paramedic drove to the East Lake area and began throwing fireworks and spouting racial slurs. They were quickly apprehended and charged. Within the days the NAACP would not only release a statement but were demanding a federal investigation. Did the NAACP find themselves concerned that eight days prior to this that Melvin Fennell a black man was gunned down in front of his home in East Chattanooga and his killer had not been apprehended?
If you think I am down playing the blatant racial attack, you are wrong. Do I think they those white men should have been punished, absolutely and to the fullest. On the other hand I feel that our voices of power in the black community are losing focus of the bigger problem being faced in the inner city. I wonder if they even know Keoshia Ford’s name. The focus of the Concerned Citizens for Justice state they organize to end white supremacy, police brutality, and mass incarceration. On a side note I find it humorous that there are white people that help organize this group. When will these groups organize to help stop youth violence or the murders of African-Americans murdered by African-Americans. When will they try to resolve issues and promote peace within the African-American community? Who is going to step up? Who will shoulder this responsibility?
Just this week a 13-year-old African-American child was killed while standing in his home. The black community is still silent.
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What does it matter the shade of a cadaver as it lays with a toe tag and on a cold stainless steel table?
Regardless of pigmentation, our bodies have a crimson red heart. Which leads me to this. Our actions are from the heart.
What can be said that we already haven't heard? How many marches will it take to better our society? There isn't a program, police chief or mayor that can change a person's heart. Only Jesus can do that.
My suggestion? Stop suing schools and courthouses because they display God's Word or the kids who want to pray before a game.
Allow God back in and watch the transformation take place. And punish the evildoers.
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When I read the well written opinion piece by Timothy Bryce the first thing that came to mind was Brenda Washington would come out with both barrels firing. I just have a request, what in Mr. Bryce's opinion was is error? Maybe someone would enlighten all the readers to the errors or wrong conclusions.
Like the media there are certain phrases to always look for: might be, could be, should be, maybe, someone said, I know (no facts or names) and making assumptions about people we (including me) know nothing about.
Like the old TV show "Dragnet" Sgt. Fridays favorite words, "Just the facts, just the facts."
N.D. Kennedy Sr.