Friday, May 25 , 2018, 10:39 am | Partly Cloudy 64º

 
 
 
 

Diane Dimond: Black Police Officials Dare to Issue Challenge to ‘Fix the Ghetto’

Fear, anger, cries of racism. This is what seems to envelop America these days. It’s all dished up daily by presidential candidates and the media.

There are so many people taking offense to what others say or do that I can’t keep track of it all. It’s exhausting.

A restaurant owner in Albuquerque recently came up with a new recipe for tuna with black olive tapenade, and to promote it he printed T-shirts with the slogan “Black Olives Matter.”

That might be amusing at any other time in our history, but not now. Supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement immediately made it clear they thought the promotion was racist, not clever.

Last weekend, in Milwaukee, there was a shooting involving police, and before the facts were even known a devastating riot broke out. Cries of police brutality and institutional racism filled the air. Seven officers were injured, and an 18 year old was shot in the neck.

Here are the facts: An armed black suspect named Sylville K. Smith, 23, was driving a stolen vehicle, stopped the car and ran from police.

According to Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A. Flynn, who viewed body-camera video of the event, the suspect stopped running and turned toward police holding a gun.

Smith, a man with a long police record, refused to drop his gun when officers ordered. That’s when an officer shot him.

In what world is this a racist event? The unidentified officer is black. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is black. In what universe is this considered police brutality?

I’m left with the conclusion that some segments of America don’t want truth, they want to make trouble. They want to blame others for what they have not achieved in life. They want to rampage through the streets, destroying their own communities without a thought to what such senseless acts achieve.

And when people like that take to the streets to set fires, loot stores and shoot guns into the air — or at other people — who is expected to come to the rescue? The police, of course.

At what point do we acknowledge that our societal problems are not all about racism? When do we admit that there is an ugly cancer festering in urban areas across the nation and that it has little to do with the police?

It has everything to do with the behavior of a relatively small group of bad actors in those communities.

As Clarke pointed out, there exists a very real and very volatile mix of urban pathologies in minority communities today, created by decades of failed policies that only exacerbated poverty and nurtured its frequent companion: crime.

Police didn’t create the situation. They only respond to the aftermath.

Clarke told reporters: “Failed urban policy (exacerbates) inescapable poverty, failing public schools, inadequate parenting, father-absent homes. We all know when fathers are not around to shape the behavior of young boys, they oftentimes grow up to be unmanageable misfits that police have to deal with in an aggressive fashion.”

And then came the zinger from this African-American sheriff, who often talks about the lack of family values in today’s inner cities. He said: “Stop trying to fix the police. Fix the ghetto.”

Bravo for the blunt assessment. And Clarke is not the only black law enforcement official to challenge those neighborhoods plagued by drugs, gangs, poor schools and a culture that relies on government handouts.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown, who lost five officers and saw seven more wounded when a crazed gunman interrupted an anti-police protest last month, agrees.

“We’re asking cops to do too much in this country,” he said. “Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops. Not enough mental health funding? Let the cops handle it. Not enough drug funding? Let’s give it to the cops. ... The schools fail, give it to the cops. ... That’s too much to ask.”

Brown issued a challenge to protesters to abandon the marches and riots and do something positive like joining the police force, just as he did when he tired of seeing his friends succumb to the crack epidemic.

“We’re hiring,” he said. “Get out of the protest line and fill out an application.”

Look, since President Lyndon B. Johnson and his Great Society reform, America has poured billions of dollars into programs designed to give folks who live in what Clarke calls “the ghetto” a hand up and a way out of their environment. Yet the perpetual problems with crime persist.

Now it’s time for residents to realize there is only one way to combat their daily anxiety — by joining with police to help wipe out crime in their neighborhoods.

Community leaders and clergy must persuade citizens to help police by reporting crimes, illegal guns, drugs and other activities that erode their quality of life.

It’s the only way their children will be able to break the cycle and thrive without fear — fear of the criminals or the police.

Diane Dimond is the author of Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case. Contact her at [email protected], follow her on Twitter: @DiDimond, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >