By the Numbers

*This is part one of a two part series. I have written about the violence in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri for a very long time. I have been an advocate for victims of violence since the murder of my childhood friend in late 2006. So this is nothing new for me and I am not jumping on the band wagon. Being a voice for those who have been victimized is my purpose and I fully intend to walk in it.*

“When you tell YOUR story, YOU hold your own pen. Don’t let anyone write YOUR story!~Tracy Martin

As an ROTC flight commander in high school I remember calling cadence, and there were a few cadence we would do so “by the numbers”. I also remember during my time spent in the Army our drill sergeants also called cadence “by the numbers”. I’m sure you are like what in the world is she getting at with this? It will all make sense momentarily I promise.

Let’s Talk Numbers

Twenty-Two, the age of Charles Hogans when he was gunned downed following a nightclub brawl in downtown St. Louis on November 13th, 2006. Twenty-Seven, the age of Juan Cannon when he was killed while driving his car on the evening of August 19th, 2009. Eighty-Six, the number assigned to Donveion Williams by the St. Louis City Police Department on August 27, 2011; he was twenty-four when he drove into the crossfire of random shooting on a north side St. Louis city street. Lastly, four; the number of children left without a father when Robert Torrence was shot several times, one shot being fatal while standing in front of his home on October 17th, 2014. He died of his injuries early on the morning of October 18th, 2014; he had recently turned thirty. [I will revisit these numbers and names again]

The Business of Mike Brown

18 year-old Micheal Brown and accused Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson

St. Louis, Missouri has been noted as one of the most dangerous cities in the country for several years so it should come as no surprise that we have had yet another murderous year. The close of our summer was marked by the untimely demise of eighteen year-old Micheal Brown, who was shot dead in the street by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson [who was white]. Residents of Ferguson, Missouri and surrounding St. Louis areas responded to the teen’s death by protesting, marching and demanding justice for young Mike Brown. Some residents decided to take matters into their own hands by rioting Ferguson businesses including burning down what they believed to be “ground zero”, the QuikTrip on West Florissant. The riots turned into several nights of looting and the destroying of a strip of businesses along West Florissant in Ferguson. Our city was in total chaos!! All in the name of justice for Mike Brown. It would be several days before residents received any of the answers they were demanding, including the race and identity of the officer responsible for killing the teen. Days following the shooting of Mike Brown were strenuous on our city, however aside from two fatal shootings [which of course were overshadowed by the events in Ferguson] that took place the same day as Mike Brown all was quiet in terms of shootings and violence. It was amazing to see that our small city was the center of so much media attention [both positive and negative]. The “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” movement had taken over and all eyes were on Ferguson, Missouri; Rev. Al Sharpton, Iyanla Vanzant, Common and numerous other big names visited the site where Mike Brown lay in the street for hours following the fatal shooting. For the first time in a long time our city took a stand together along side Leslie McSpadden and Micheal Brown Sr. [the parents of Micheal Brown] and there was peace in the streets. Or was there?

It didn’t take long before it was back to business as usual and the violence in our black communities was on the rise once again.

To be continued….

“It is easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken men”. ~Frederick Douglas

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