The epidemic of gun violence, of Black on Black crimes in New Haven is, in fact, an accumulative massacre! This is not too strong a statement. Between Jan. 2009 and April 3, 2014, if someone had descended into various areas of the black New Haven community and gunned down 107 young black people the rage could not be contained; and it would be justified. This is exactly what has happened in New Haven over the past 5 years; the only difference is — the killers are from within the community. There is much “this community” can do to save itself and its children. What are we waiting for? How many more have to die before we act? What will it take to get sustained impact?
On March 24, 2014, 17 year-old Taijon Washington was murdered in Newhallville, CT. He was buried amidst a bit of pageantry on April 2, 2014. On that day Bishop Brooks extended an invitation to young black men to come to church and appealed for a moratorium until Easter: “Two weeks of peace. No shooting, no violence, no beating, no selling of drugs.” While I fully understand that the appeal is an effort to do something; I also find it truly disturbing for several reasons. Think about what this request implies. What is it that we are accepting as an inevitable part of life in the Black community?!
Why two weeks? Is it because that seems to be reasonbale to ask? Or is it because – as a community– we need a 2-week respite? Is it O’K to resume the mayhem after the moratorium is over? Of course not. The good Bishop was not implying any of these. When we are at our wits end we are often willing to accept anything that seems like a better alternative. We do NEED a great deal more.
Many supposedly in ‘the-know’ are saying the murder of Torrence Gamble is personal. We are not sure how that should be interpreted. If these killings are not as a result of robberies, or murders for hire, aren’t all of these murders personal? It is a question. What is the answer?
The NHI is masterful at covering these events. One descriptor reads ‘Many of the mourners wore T-shirts, buttons, and other obituary wear reading: “Rock Da Heavens, Sleepy” and” Sleep up, Bro! Heaven Couldn’t Wait for You.” We beg to differ; not with the NHI, but with the mourners. Heaven was quite prepared to wait and had nothing to do with the decisions made in Newhallville on March 24, 2014. Maybe telling ourselves that these senseless killings are a part of God’s plan makes it easier to accept them. God gave us free will; how we exercise it is entirely up to us.
“The funeral was especially poignant for the family because two of Taijhon’s cousins, Dallas Boomer and Thomas “TJ” Mozell, with whom he had been close, were also shot to death in New Haven.” The NHI informs us.
Among the words spoken at the funeral of Taijhon Washington, as a throng of 300 were preparing to take him to his grave, were: “We have here a young man killed not by a Zimmerman, but by somebody who looks like him!” declared Bishop Brooks’ son, Pastor Darryl Brooks, invoking the Trayvon Martin case. “We can’t go on about ‘stand your ground’ laws in Florida when we don’t stand up [here] in New Haven. We need to stand up and say enough is enough.”
Clearly, those who control the guns, the drugs, the gangs and the violence in our communities were not in the church on April 2, at the funeral of young Mr. Washington, or maybe they were there but the message did not get through; on April 3, 2014 – “Another teenaged boy lost his life to gun violence.” We later learned that this boy was alive and at the funeral of Taijon Washington one day earlier.
The latest victim is Torrence Gamble of Henry Street, New Haven.
Police responded to a call at 9:38 p.m. Thursday at 78 Daggett St. in the Hill. There they found Gamble, shot in the head, according to police spokesman Officer David Hartman.” He was pronounced dead at 3:15 a.m. He was 16 years old. He attended Riverside Academy.”
“No shooting, no beatings, no drug dealing, no violence of any kind from now until Easter: A call for that two-week moratorium emerged from an emotional farewell funeral ceremony for Taijhon Washington, the 17-year old who was killed in gun violence on the evening of March 24 near Butler and Lilac streets near the Lincoln-Bassett School in Newhallville.” The killers were not listening to Bishop Brooks; they certainly did not accept the invitation for a moratorium.
Why are guns so easily accessible in our communities? Did you call your CT legislators today to tell them to STAND UP TO THE GUN LOBBY? What can the broader community do? What would have happened in this – the greater New Haven– community if a bunch of other people had gone into black communities and gunned down these same five, 17 or 33 young black men? How many people would have gone to the Capital to demand changes to the gun laws? These are the numbers of young black men killed in New Haven over the past few years! See links below.
Yes, most crimes are intraracial; 86 percent of white victims were killed by white offenders; 94 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders. This is true throughout most of America. People are killed mostly by people they know. However, there is no reason for us to accept this as the norm in the Black community. If we do not want to accept it, how are we going to change it? When kids used to fight with their fists, no one got killed. Why are our black young men killing each other at such an alarming rate?
We ended 2013 with the killing of three people in Dec. What are we doing to bring this accumulating massacre to an end? Of the 20 homicides in New Haven in 2013, 18 died of gunshots; 17 were young Black men and two were Hispanics. Between January 2009 and April 3, 2014, New Haven lost 107 young Black men to gun violence. Many more survived their encounters with guns (NHR***). Here are the names and ages of our latest victims; they range in age from 16 to 33!
12/07/2013 – Shamar Willett , 23 , Black, shot and killed in New Haven (Harding Place)
12/14 /2013 – Deveron McLaughlin, 32, Black, was shot and killed in New Haven (Weybossett)
12/28/2013 – Javier Martinez, 18, Hispanic, was shot and killed on Hemingway, New Haven
1/20/2014- Durell Patrick Law (20), Black, shot and killed, Eastern Street, NH
1/31/2014 - Varnouard Hall (33) Black, shot and killed, East Pearl Street, NH
2/10/2014 - Kyle Edwards (22), Black, shot and killed, Kossuth Street, NH
3/24/2014 – Taijon Washington (age 17), Black, shot and killed in Newhallville, NH
4/03/2014 – Torrence Gamble (age 16), Black, shot and killed, Henry Street, NH
So far we have had 5 young Black men murdered in 2014! Regardless of how many police the Mayor puts on the streets, that is not going to prevent the problem. We NEED to go deeper; we NEED to understand what is happening with our young Black men why they perceive their lives to have no value. We need to engage parents and the broader community. We need to get the gang members into a safe space and talk to them. Most of those who killed the 107 of their brothers are still walking the streets! Why? The police cannot make arrests without information. What do we value? Who do we value? How many more will have to die before we do something more than cry and talk?
They announced that murders rose from 12 to 24 from 2009 to 2010. Twenty-two victims were black males, one a black female, and one Hispanic male.
Of 124 non-fatal shooting victims, 99 were black men; seven were black females; seven Hispanic males; one Hispanic female; eight white males; one white female; and 1 “other male.”
Let us bear in mind that the killers among us also have mothers and fathers; they have siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. What are you doing to save the young people in the NH Black community?
The New Haven Independent (NHI) reports that at a recent New Haven Board of Education meeting David Cicarella spoke out about the problem with lack of discipline in many New Haven Public Schools (NHPS). Mr. Cicarella, president of the teachers union, handled the discipline situation with aplomb. It is about time this critical issue is brought out into the open and then resolutely addressed. It cannot be adequately addressed while hidden. Teachers have taken early retirement, and some have left the district out of frustration with this issue. Even some parents have given up trying with their own children! It is a major problem affecting learning for all children involved in these situations. The costs on all fronts are extremely high and it is long-term.
In the NHI True Vote survey the statement reads: Students who throw chairs or attack teachers should be – 1) Suspended or Expelled; 2) Counseled in School.
The result: 100 people (71.43%) say Suspension or Expulsion; 40 people (28.57%) say Counseled in School. Can we justify expelling a first grade or elementary student unless the child committed a major felony?
It is disturbing that 71.43% (100) of the people who responded to the survey believe suspensions and expulsions are the answer. By law, a school district must provide a public education for all children until they graduate from high school or reach the age of 21.
What will it costs the district to educate all of these suspended and expelled students?
When a child is suspended or expelled, the district must provide 2 hours of certified instructions daily. Where will these children be during the remainder of the school day?
If they have parents or guardians who work, who will take care of these elementary students? Who will pay for their care?
The NHI should have offered a third choice: Provide these children with Clinical Therapy in a professional setting. In an interview done with Abby Anderson (Executive Director, CT Juvenile Justice Alliance) she stated that white children are clinicalized for learning and behavioral problems, and black children are criminalized.
The figures from our juvenile and criminal justice systems bear her out. As much as 83 percent of those in CT’s JJS are black and brown boys; 68 percent of those incarcerated in our JJS do not have a high school diploma.
Of the 450 young men in Manson Institute on Oct. 1, 2013, 230 were black and 160 were Hispanic! Only 60 were white! Yet, black, Hispanic and white boys commit violations at the same rate; yet the outcomes are different. Dr. Rayford recently explained how the penal system repels white boys but pulls in blacks.
We have to change the projectory for these children in Kindergarten.
Suspensions and expulsions are NOT the answer.
As a society, we will pay a major price later. We need to spend the money up front and deal with the issues involved rather than keep spending $60 Billion annually to maintain prisons!
Supt. Harries is correct; we should not be suspending more students; however, it cannot be for political reasons. Whatever is done has to be in the best interest of children. Also, teachers should not be expected to deal effectively with these children and also teach the others.
It is too much to ask, and it will deprive the children who are prepared to learn.
We have a large number of children with severe emotional and mental health problems. Suspensions and expulsions are not going to help these children. They need intensive therapy in highly specialized clinics, not in school. The parents also need therapy; this is why everyone NEEDS health coverage.
The ACA provides mental health coverage and therapy for an extended period. People who don’t have jobs qualify for the expanded Medicaid. All of us, including the schools, need to encourage parents to get health coverage so that these children and their parents can get the mental health services they need.
Call the NH Health Dept at (203) 946-2227, or community Action Agency (203) 387-7700- Ext 193 to sign up for the Affordable Care Act. Failure to sign up by March 31, 2014 will mean not having health care until January 2015.
Union Prez Fed Up Over Student Discipline (from the New Haven Independent)
“Cicarella said he broke his silence because he has been privately sparring with Harries over the discipline issue for the past year and he feels nothing is being done.
Too often, he said, kids disrupt class—throwing chairs, punching, biting or hitting teachers—without effective discipline from school administration.
“Why isn’t the student discipline issue more front and center?” he asked. “It impacts everything that we say and do.”
(School Superintendent) “Harries said the district is working to train more teachers and staff in how to better handle the social and emotional issues kids face that cause them to act out in school. He called the discipline issue “complex,” one requiring a range of responses.” This might be indicative of the fact that supt. Harries, along with many parents and community leaders, do not fully appreciate the depth of the emotional problems many children have. New Haven is a school district laden with a disproportionately high number of troubled children. These children need help, not expulsion from school. We NEED to invest in our children early; we need to teach our youngsters how to think critically and how to solve problems peacefully. Many of these children live in violent homes; they are taught by examples in their homes that screaming, shouting and hitting are how they resolve problems.
Suspensions and expulsions will only exacerbate these children’s lack of problem-solving skills. While there are more that some teachers can do, it is not reasonable to put this burden on teachers only. Clinical therapy! Please.
Read the extensive article in the New Haven Independent linked here: