Dunbar Village and Flipping it on Al

johnsonx.jpgYesterday, in true Sharpton style, Al successfully organized a large protest on the U.S. Department of Justice arguing that they are not taking hate crimes seriously amid the wave of noose hangings. Some black folk are pushing back against Al claiming he, and other black leaders, are not taking black problems seriously–in this case, regarding the horrendous attack of a Haitian woman and her son that has received far too little attention.

The group is leading a Jena 6-like grass-roots movement through e-mails, blogs and rallies. It wants to call national attention to the beating and rape of a 35-year-old Haitian woman and the beating and sexual assault of her 12-year-old son by up to 10 assailants in West Palm Beach, Fla.

In June, armed attackers broke into the woman’s apartment in Dunbar Village, a public housing project, where they repeatedly raped and sodomized her and forced her to perform oral sex on her son, according to a grand jury indictment. They poured household chemicals on the victims’ eyes and threatened to set them on fire, police and media reports say. [source: USA]

And from the Chicago Tribune on Shane Johnson’s (pictured) dissent:

Shane Johnson, 32, a social worker by day and Weblogger on the side, staged a nearby dissent with a few sympathizers. He supported the prosecution of hate crimes, he said, but thinks Sharpton’s definition of “hate” is too narrow. Johnson didn’t draw much attention and he wasn’t surprised. “Most people view me as taking on the black establishment,” he told me in a telephone interview. “They think I am going to embarrass our leaders. My view is that they should be embarrassed.”

Right on, my man, right on. Gina McCauley, also a blogger, made another great (and accurate) point:

“We need to be talking about black-on-black crime,” she says. “I have more of a likelihood of being attacked by a black person than a white person. We’re being slaughtered. Why isn’t anyone marching about that?” [source: USA]


2 Responses to “Dunbar Village and Flipping it on Al”

  1. 1 Neuman November 19, 2007 at 10:37 am

    Nah, nah, nah. Should blacks refrain from thoughtfully criticizing Al Sharpton and/or Jesse Jackson (selected as examples here for their media prominence)? Of course not. But critique for the sake of critique is dumb. Is it fair and useful to criticize Shaprton for “not taking black problems seriously” based on the fact that he chose not to march on a particular person’s behalf? That seems to me as assinine as blacks who criticize Oprah Winfrey for giving cars to people non-blacks or opening a school in South Africa instead of South Central. Winfrey’s money, like Sharpton’s influence, is his to wield as he sees fit. Oprah can’t buy everybody a car, and Sharpton can’t march for every racial injustice. The New York Times ran an article today explaining how the State Police in New Jersey (Trenton and Newark in particular) are no longer pressing civilians to testify in drug and/or murder cases for fear they do not have the resources to keep potential witnesses safe long enough to testify or alive after they do. The result is that police are often compiling only enough evidence (without witnesses) to make lesser crimes stick and top-of-the-food-chain drug dealers and murderers are left on the street. That’s a huge problem, but there’s no march planned on State Street.

    Note the difference between protesting the tactics and practices of the DOJ versus protesting private acts of violence. Black on black crime and the heinous acts the Haitian woman and her son were subjected to were committed by private citizens, who must privately hold accountable. The DOJ is a public entity charged with enforcing the laws of our nation. Protest works in the public context, but not in the private context. Is it that the prosecutor and police in West Palm Beach did not capture the assailants and/or are refusing or unable to bring them to justice. Or is it that some horrific things happened to this family that the media is not reporting? If the latter, launching attacks at Sharpton is unfair and counterproductive. Lodge complaints against public failures, or do something in your community to prevent or remedy private, heinous acts.

  2. 2 Mike November 19, 2007 at 11:26 am

    It’s more than just protesting a private tragedy. The private injustice described is emblematic of something much larger. The push back on Al is about pressuring him to take a stand and use his influence to address a tremendous problem that is harming the black community–black-on-black crime. Of course his influence is his to wield and he can’t be everywhere. But this is an issue of priorities being misplaced, not him being everywhere and addressing every public and private injustice. Sharpton’s priorities are in addressing white on black injustices. This is important to do and he can be effective with injustices such as Jena. But how’s that sound as a priority when the leading cause of death of black men between the ages of 15 and 34 is homicide (overwhelmingly caused by other blacks).

    I see your point in the DOJ example, but the solution to black-on-black crime will not involve a public entity (at least not as a primary means of change). As you mentioned in a previous comment, the solution will come from turning inward not outward. Also, private injustices such as Dunbar Village can be the spark for a larger social movement for doing this (think Rosa Parks).

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