By Hazel Trice Edney
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gave this reporter a blank stare in response to a question. To be asked whether she is familiar with the Baltimore-based group called 300 Men March was apparently baffling to her.
She explained, “That’s like asking me if I’ve heard of the Baltimore Orioles. I’m from Baltimore. I get it.”
As indicated by the Mayor’s response, this group of men, known for their patrolling the Baltimore streets as a display of positive force and responsible manhood amidst an often violent backdrop, have made quite a name for themselves. But as police violence against African-Americans has dominated the media air space, the support needed to help those doing the work against street violence appears stagnant – despite rising homicide rates across the country.
“You certainly get a whole lot of activity from people when it comes to police brutality – every time something goes on with the police and the Black man,” says the group’s founder and president, Munir Bahar, in a recent interview with the Trice Edney News Wire. “But, yet, there’s not enough support and involvement on a day-to-day basis of men of color especially, but all men around the country with regards to community violence.”
The surge in national homicide statistics has been well-documented by local and national media:
This week, a heart-breaking national news story focuses on the Chicago police investigation of the multiple shooting of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee. The boy, killed Nov. 2, while walking through an alley near his grandmother’s house, is believed to have been the target in a feud involving one or more of his relatives.
The indiscriminate killings of Black people – including babies, children, teens and adults – is a scenario that has become all too common, says Bahar.
At this writing, in Baltimore, the count has long surpassed 235 – well more than last year’s total of 211; in Chicago, it’s now more than 300, 20 percent up from the 244 all of last year. It’s the same story in cities across the country. For example, in Washington, DC, homicides are up 36 percent; New Orleans, up 19 percent; St. Louis, up 60 percent; and Detroit, up 50 percent since last year.
And despite a season of decline during the past decade, the numbers have continued to mount for years. In fact, since 1975, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation first began keeping homicide statistics, the combined national numbers of street homicide deaths surpass a half million. That’s enough to populate several entire cities.
As the protests and outrage over the killings of Black men and women by police officers continue around the country, this one group of Black men – 300 Men March – have decided that African-American street violence against each other is what they are called to fight. Winning the respect of their peers, they have proven to be a different kind of warrior.
To make that point nationally, Bahar, in August, led about 50 men in a march all the way from Baltimore, 35 miles South to Washington, DC.
“We wanted to take this straight to our capital, straight to the door steps of our President under the banner of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative,” said Bahar, 35. “We announced ourselves as that group of men that have been active, that are still active, and pledge ourselves to continue to be active until we end this genocide in the country of young Black men.”
But, of course, it’s not that simple. Though he hopes to establish 300 men strong over the next five years, Bahar says they currently have about 60 faithful participants.
“We have a large amount of Black men who are literally sitting aside watching our race be destroyed from the inside. Guys who would rather go to happy hour at an all White party or a cocktail party or a whatever party than to spend that time mentoring some young people in this city,” he says.
Bahar’s nearly 12-year-old non-profit organization, COR Health Institute, which birthed the 300 vision two years ago, mentors young men in fitness, martial arts, and health programs. On the streets, the 300 Men March is symbolic of the small group of warriors in the movie, 300, who “went up against an army that everybody thought they would lose,” Bahar describes. “There was pessimism from day one. And that’s kind of what we’re dealing with the murder rate and these murders that are not only happening in Baltimore but across most urban Black cities across America. We have this sky rocketing, this insane level of violence and I feel – to be honest and I’m out there every day – I feel that a lot of people have given up. I feel that a lot of people in the Black community especially, have just accepted this. A lot of Black people have accepted defeat.”
But, the 300 men have inspired many, including Mayor Rawlings-Blake.
“I can say that level of engagement, that grass roots level is helpful because 300 Men movement speaks directly to these men that are victims of men that are perpetrators,” she said. “And really trying to speak to their hearts to let them know that there’s something different out there; and that the community needs them to stand up as men; not as violent offenders.”
Bahar says his vision is to expand nationally and to help other groups with the same goals. But resources are limited.
“There are a lot of people from Baltimore to Chicago to Los Angeles who are addressing community violence. We want to rally those individuals. We want to rally and show our support and encouragement to everybody who’s fighting the genocide of young Black men in this country,” he says.
Gaining a national reputation, the group has won the attention of the National Bankers Association and its president, Michael Grant, a key supporter who has helped to raise funds for their mission.
“So, you got this young leader, and a visionary leader who has stepped out here and who is totally committed to this cause. And he struggles to get attention from people who can help him financially. He struggles to get the support that he needs. And the question is why. Why would the Black community, especially the Black middle class and those who have resources; why would they not enthusiastically embrace this type of leadership?” Grant questions. “We’re going to leave all this on the shoulders of young people without giving them financial support and moral support or even going sometimes to march with them?”
Other community leaders have also expressed support.
Civil rights activist the Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant, pastor of Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple, says some of his male members are a part of the group, which he describes as “redefining what Black male imaging looks like…For Black men to stand and let their voices be heard, this is so significant when we’ve had more than 237 homicides in Baltimore and they are overwhelming majority Black males.”
Though the 300 group may feel isolated, anti-street violence activity appears back on the rise. For example, the National Week of Non-violence, sponsored annually by the Washington, D.C.-based Black Women for Positive Change in mid-October, drew support from mayors, legislators and activists around the nation; including Ben Crump, the attorney for the family of Trayvon Martin, who is now president of the National Bar Association.
But the battle is up hill, says Bahar. Despite the rising death tolls, he doesn’t appear discouraged.
“I’m not worried about measuring my success,” he says. “This is a movement. Dr. King, when they were building their movement, they were not worried about measuring their success. They were just doing something that God inspired them to do. And when you ‘re moving with the Spirit of God, you don’t have to evaluate that.”
Jill Scott is about to headline A+E Network’s Race in America concert next month, and recently, she opened up to The Huffington Post about the now-viral video of a South Carolina teenage girl being assaulted by a school officer at Spring Valley High School.
“I was [once] a teacher and I remember their mouths — I know the students have a whole day to sit down and think of something negative to say, but you’re supposed to be the adult,” Scott said. “You’re supposed to be able to take a breath and walk away, and still do your job. This is violence. He swung that child around like he hated her. And that’s too much.”
Scott also said that she thinks that the recent incident captured on video is not the first of it’s kind
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A STATEMENT FROM ALDERMAN JOE DAVIS, SR.
JULY 13, 2015
Why are we afraid to speak the truth about the homicide crisis that is
impacting the City of Milwaukee’s social and economic fabric? If a Black
child from our community was six years old in 1994, here’s what he or
she experienced: the introduction of crack cocaine to our community
through Ricky Ross on the West Coast during the end of the Reagan
Administration; Gangsta Rap in the music industry; and the release of
Nelson Mandela with the end of an apartheid system in South Africa.
That child in 2004 would now be 16 years old and faced with extreme
social and economic challenges regarding poverty in Milwaukee that will,
in all certainty, lead them to the unjustly criminal justice system.
That same child now would be 27 years old and dying on the streets of
our city because of gun violence (as would his little brother who was
five in 2004 and now is 16 years old).
More than 85% of folks dying in Milwaukee to violence are Black and
under 30 years old, and we know many Black children are being
slaughtered also, kids in their early teens. So violence is not
something that just started to happen; in my assessment it has grown due
to a lack of will to provide a better standard of life for Black folks
here in Milwaukee. In 2004, Milwaukee’s poverty rate was around 26% and
now we are the 2nd poorest city in the country only behind Detroit with
a poverty rate of almost 30%.
So it’s time for us to understand the economic facts and take control
of this serious situation that has been neglected by Mayor Barrett. And
don’t fall for the excuse that “this isn’t about race,” because it is.
On our streets of Milwaukee, Black folks are dying, Black children are
dying, and the Black community is getting poorer.
And you expect me to remain silent?
Chicago woman who was shot to death on Friday night after returning home from an anti-violence fundraiser had dedicated her life to the local community, her family said in a statement.
Leonore Draper, 32, had attended A Charitable Confection prior to her violent death from an apparent drive-by shooting while exiting her car outside her home. Chicago teenagers organized the anti-violence group Project Orange Tree to initiate efforts and to combat all forms of violence in their communities.
“We believe it quite ironic that Leonore’s life ended violently when she was so committed to the betterment of our community,” her family said in a statement on Sunday.
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by Quassan Castro
Every week, it seems gun violence is in the headlines. As a matter of fact in Chicago, where JET is headquartered, there was a reported 15 shootings with three people killed in just the 24 hours leading up to the July 4th holiday.
But some celebrities are stepping up to put a stop to this epidemic. Rapper-turned-reggae artist Snoop Lion (aka Snoop Dogg), says he’s an opponent of gun violence despite his past lyrics and activities growing up in Long Beach. Rapper T.I. also takes a pledge not to influence gun usage, particularly when high numbers of homicides in America are at extreme highs.
According to a National Vital Statistics report, in 2011 alone, over 30, 000 people died in America due to gun violence.
The two rappers and Congresswoman Maxine Waters led a anti-gun violence panel discussion on June 29, during the BET Experience in Los Angeles, CA.
Dr. Rob “Biko” Baker, Executive Director of the League of Young Voters Education Fund, moderated the diverse panel. One aspect of the panel discussion spoke about youth cultures obsession with guns.
Over 1, 000 charged listeners were in attendance in support of the ‘no gun violence’ movement. Tatyana Ali, Craig Wayans and Lisa Leslie, retired WNBA player came out to support the movement. Check out a snippet of the event, and then answer our poll.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has pushed back the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to 12 November.
The decision was taken to give Mr Kenyatta’s defence enough time to prepare for his trial, the ICC said.
Mr Kenyatta is accused of orchestrating violence after the 2007 election, an allegation he denies.
The African Union has called for the trial to be halted, saying the ICC was “hunting” Africans.
The ICC has refused to drop the charges, saying it pursues justice impartially.
It had rescheduled Mr Kenyatta’s trial from 9 July to 12 November after judges ruled that defence lawyers should be given more time to prepare for his trial “due to the delays by the prosecution in disclosing its evidence”, the ICC said in a statement.
Mr Kenyatta is charged with crimes against humanity, including murder and rape.
The ICC accuses him of being an “indirect co-perpetrator” in the violence that killed about 1,200 people and left more than 500,000 homeless after the disputed 2007 election.
Mr Kenyatta was elected president in March, beating then-Prime Minister Raila Odinga by 50.07% to 43.28%.
He used the charges to bolster his campaign, accusing the ICC of interfering in Kenya’s internal affairs.
Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto is due to go on trial in September on similar charges.
On Tuesday, the ICC agreed that Mr Ruto only needs to be “physically present” at key sessions of his trial.
He had requested to participate in the trial via video link.
Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta were on opposite sides of the 2007 election, but formed an alliance for this year’s election.
Mr Kenyatta backed his predecessor, Mwai Kibaki, in the 2007 election, while Mr Ruto supported Mr Odinga.
The names of key suspects involved in violence after the 2007 poll were handed over to the ICC by Kofi Annan, who brokered a power-sharing deal.
He did so after Kenyan politicians failed to set up a tribunal as promised to try those accused of instigating the violence.
Alarmed by recent violence nationwide and led by students at Riverside University High School, young people and community activists from across Milwaukee will march to City Hall this afternoon to deliver petitions calling for stricter gun laws.
Marchers gathered at Gordon Park, 2828 N. Humboldt Blvd., at 4:00 p.m. to collect signatures and set o ut for City Hall were they held a news conference with Alds. Ashanti Hamilton, Nik Kovac and Milele A. Coggs in the City Hall rotunda.
Leaders with the Riverside University High School Student Government said they organized the signature drive, and reached out to students at other schools to involve them as well. All concerned community members were welcomed to participate in the march.
By Hakim Hazim
This commentary raises a question about priority. It is an attempt to better frame the discussion on curbing the violence currently taking place in our country. We must proceed with facts.
According to the FBI’s most recent report, violent crime rates continue to decrease, a pattern that has continued for five consecutive years.
However, recent massacres and target killings have shocked our senses. The Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy repulsed and captivated the public as we meditated on the blend of evil and mental instability we have unfortunately become accustomed to witnessing.
Images of a weeping president moved us as Barack Obama vowed to reform gun laws, giving rise to a debate that will rage far into the foreseeable future. The primary debate positions are framed below:
Gun control proponents seek a balance on who should be allowed to purchase specific types of weapons. The logic behind their reasoning: minimize lethality when crimes occur.
Gun advocates ask, “How can gun control solve anything?” Their view: if you disarm good citizens, the predatory, criminal element will not abide by these rules and people will be left defenseless, relying on a police force that primarily responds to crime, but inept in terms of prevention.
We do need robust debate that is purposeful, but I am convinced a focus on lethal minds should take priority over lethal means. This nation must develop relevant, scientific research that seeks to answer this question. What are the precipitating factors and causes that produce violent offenders and how can we mitigate them?
I’ve spoken with hit men, gangsters and young adults who have killed their parents. The majority of them retain an attitude of detachment from the act, but some are quite emotional. Most equated killing in terms of justification, vocation or desperation.
A few described it as an extreme, emotional purging they participated in. According to some observers, it was similar to a dream or out of body experience. Over 20 years ago, I spoke with a young man who described his experience of shooting both of his parents in such terms.
We ask “why,” and by looking at human behavior via the lenses of ABA or Applied Behavioral Analysis, we may arrive at some answers.
ABA states that all conscious behavior seeks three outcomes:
1. To get or obtain
2. Escape or avoid
3. To meet a sensory need or desire
Violence, like all behavior, should be viewed in terms of what it provides for those who engage in it. As we gain a better understanding of violence, we can seek prevention.
Attention-seeking killers primarily want to obtain an audience. Their distorted reasons propel them to act and they are on the rise—and unfortunately, here to stay. Target Killings by the late Chris Dorner, former LAPD officer, and the deceased Evan Ebel, former inmate, teach us this lesson—killing is worth the risk for some.
Free societies have produced criminals who now compete with one another for body counts and/or notoriety in the media. To date, we have not produced the death toll of an Anders Breivik of Norway, but be assured—the twisted ideology found in his manifesto has infested unstable minds.
We must shield people from this poison through proper mentoring and education. Once a young person experiences violence and develops a taste for it; it’s difficult to turn them around.
The military has had issues of its own. A lieutenant colonel stated, “Blood lust is something you have to deal with. Some can’t handle it.”
If this applies to respected, trained, service men and women, what about the youth of our day, the mentally unstable, and those brought up in dysfunctional, violent homes? Violence creates a sound and fury that causes a reactionary response. We must be solution-oriented, and never simply appalled or fascinated by it.
Now is not the time to follow the crowd or the loudest voices on this issue; we need to figure this out and take a scientific, spiritual, and logical approach. If we do not, I fear my nightmare may come to pass. An excerpt from my unpublished poem, “Roar of Lions”:
I followed the direction of the roar and tumult, like so many others. I found myself in the fog. A shadowy figure emerged and to my amazement, I was greeted by the devil.
Hakim Hazim is the founder of Relevant Now Consultancy and has been immersed in research for at-risk populations since 1993. Hazim is a certified Crisis Prevention Institute Senior Trainer and Behavior Intervention Specialist with expertise in counterterrorism, radical religious sects, gangs, juvenile delinquency and law enforcement approaches for mentally ill or challenged individuals. He is the author of American Realism Revisited: Lethal Minds or Latent Threats (Iuniverse, 2005).
Question of the Week: “What can our community do to eliminate domestic violence?”
Photos and question by Yvonne Kemp
Min. Bruce L. Powell: “We can live God-fearing lives to be an example of the love of the Lord. By doing this, we can lead others to walk in the peace of God; thereby overpowering the impulse to violently assault someone.”
Gilles Noutcha: “Men need more counseling on how to address anger and frustration in a different way. They also need to be made more aware of the impact of their violence on their families.”
Cynthia Hunt: “This is my season for coming out of darkness. I too was a victim (of domestic violence) as well as a victimizer. I would like God’s Chosen Vessels to know that they can turn to Jesus whenever you need someone to lean and depend on. Christ is the answer. Ask and seek. The Holy Spirit will open doors for you.”
Tamala Redmond: “Our community can help prevent domestic violence by first coming together to pray for each others’ needs. Second, we need to teach people how to utilize their gifts, talents and skills. Third, we need to find excellent, real people who have survived domestic violence to teach them how to forgive their past hurts so they don’t carry that over to victimize others. We need to give the victims and the abusers the tools to invest in themselves. Last, we need to focus our time on loving them and showing them they can learn how to be responsible citizens without having to harm one another.”