Originally created 07/27/99

Speaker probes crime in black community

It was no surprise to Barbara Thurmond that convicted murderer Antonio Ruffin had killed before.

When the 27-year-old finally was sentenced to life in prison earlier this month, his criminal record included not only drug and assault charges but an involuntary manslaughter conviction in which he received 10 years of probation for using a pipe to beat to death another man.

"There is a cultural acceptance of violent behavior," said Ms. Thurmond, president of Blacks Against Black Crime. She spoke at Monday's meeting of the Augusta Kiwanis Club. "There is a certain amount of lawlessness allowed in the black community."

Had Mr. Ruffin, finally convicted of the murder of Michael Young, gone to prison in 1991 for the beating death, he would not have been out to kill Mr. Young.

Blacks Against Black Crime, started in 1991 by Ms. Thurmond, is a nonprofit organization that works to identify the problems that contribute to the disproportionate number of black victims, aid families of victims and help fight crime.

She has found that violent criminals in black communities often come from single-parent households, and many of them are brought up without values and accountability.

"There is a culture of African Americans that I don't understand -- their feelings about life and death are different," she said. "They abide by their own set of rules."

Further victimization against blacks then occurs in the court system, she said.

Blacks are not held accountable often enough -- such as with the case of Antonio Ruffin -- and they are often released from jail, committing more crimes.

She also found that there are disparities among bond amounts. The lowest bonds were set in black-on-black crimes, and the highest were black-on-white crimes.

Meghan Gourley covers crime for The Augusta Chronicle. She can be reached at (706) 823-3227 or mgourley@augustachronicle.com.


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