Originally created 07/05/99

Claims racist response to violence



Although juvenile crime is down in America, the media reports give a different impression. The highly publicized school shootings in a period of 18 months include: Springfield, Ore.; Fayetteville, Tenn.; Edinboro, Penn.; Jonesboro, Ark; Paducah, Ky.; Pearl, Miss., and Littleton, Colo. In these incidents Americans have been shown another face of youth violence, white suburban males.

These shootings have prompted federal lawmakers to address the issue of gun violence in America. Republicans and Democrats debate daily the issue of gun control. Newspapers, magazines and television news shows are flooded with articles on gun violence.

In contrast, Vincent Schiraidi, director of the Justice Policy Institute, estimates that 900 black youths were killed in the United States during the 18 months since the school shootings began. In addition, according to an article published in the Baltimore Sun, it has been estimated that between 1985-1995, 75,000 black males were slain in the United States. If 75,000 hearses were lined up, they would stretch approximately 300 miles. Ironically, this is comparable to the distance between Augusta and Birmingham, the cradle of the civil rights movement.

Such disparate treatment of victims is obvious and leaves many questions unanswered. For instance, where were the outrage, the politicians, the media and the nation's search for answers on how to end youth violence?

We are not insensitive to the tragedy in Littleton. In fact, we have sympathy for the victims and their families regardless of race. However, as a nation we must be as outraged over the death of 900 black males as we are about the tragedy at Columbine High School.

The nation must focus on violent crime prevention for all youth. Until that day Blacks Against Black Crimes will be the voice for black crime victims.

Barbara Thurmond, Augusta

(Editor's note: The writer is president of Blacks Against Black Crimes Inc.)