"Our Boys are Killing One Another."
Profound words from the Pastor of New York's Allen AME Church the other day when during a television interview I asked the prominent African American Pastor, the Rev. Floyd Flake, why he is supporting the highly controversial and polarizing Police Practice of "Stop and Frisk."(Which consists of the New York Police Department stopping mostly African American and Latino young men. Statistics show overwhelmingly the stopped subjects have done nothing wrong.)
The debate has raged on for months and is in Federal Court. Civil Liberties and alleged profiling vs. getting the guns off the street and cutting crime.
Flake, who happens to be a former Congressman and played a major role in rebuilding Southeast Queens, had no problem from his Washington days of working with his fellow Democrats, but Republicans as well. Relatively new to Washington at the time, he was able to deliver Federal buildings to the district.
I was in his office to talk about the Political Conventions, but my intrigue was still high regarding why he is backing "Stop and Frisk." After all several years ago, Flake-with a congregation of thousands, in a high profile situation, had been pulled over himself by the police.
"I am one of the persons as a Pastor, who have to face the families when one of these children gets killed." Flake said.
As Flake talked, I quickly thought back to about two weeks ago when I did the unthinkable while live on TV, I never thought it would happen. I almost broke down in tears while discussing gun violence.
I was caught off guard on RNN-TV when we aired part of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's weekly radio show, and the mayor's guest Tiffany Orr was very upset on the radio. A stray bullet took the life of her 13-year-old son Ronald Wallace Jr., and she was crying hysterically and screamed, on the radio:
"Too much violence is going on.
Too many Kids. He was only 13. 13!!
That was my baby. That was my baby!!!
What do I do? What should I do now?"
It really hurts to see so many people, all across America losing their lives... Most recently Aurora, Colorado. Then, as Mother Tiffany Orr was crying on WOR radio about her 13-year-old son's shooting, more gun violence was literally happening near New York's Empire State building, but sadly such acts seem like they are becoming the norm.
As a society have we become immune to the violence? Rev. Flake has always had a way of connecting with his subjects. He continued:
So whether it's a 22-year-old who got shot in the head... whether it is a young lady who got killed because somebody was not invited to the party, broke in and killed her... or whether it's the kid that's four years old, three years old out in the park.
When I started in Journalism over 25 years ago as a radio reporter, I was sent at 6 a.m. to a housing project in Brooklyn where there was a drug-related shooting. I grew up in the housing projects myself in the Bronx, but this building, even I was afraid to walk into. A bullet had went through an apartment door killing a toddler. I was there at the kitchen table as the mother arrived home telling the grandmother, the child did not make it.
To witness the pain of a parent suddenly and tragically losing a child is almost indescribable. I will take that Brooklyn shooting to my grave. You never get used to it, and to this very day, the one story I can not cover emotionally as a journalist is the funeral of a young child, seeing the little coffins.
I have always felt that somehow I personally failed children of such tragedies. Of course there was no bond between us, but in death, I always felt a connection. That the young children can not defend themselves, or really speak up for themselves, and felt that somehow I was responsible. That as a journalist, I just didn't do enough to raise awareness.
Pastor Flake continued during our interview where his point was not to blame the police for "stop and frisk, but rather those committing the crime :
"The reality is, we can not sit on the sidelines and pretend that our problem is because of those who are trying to assist, and trying to drive down the crime, our responsibility becomes how do we position ourselves as a people, to deal with the reality that our own people are killing one another."
If you think I'm engaging in NRA bashing, or being overdramatic, exaggerating, or perhaps being sensational, consider one of the stories out of New York, that was in newspaper the same day I spoke to Rev. Flake. It wasn't on page one or even a major headline, but this was the caption in the New York Post.
"Boy, 4, still asking for his mommy after witnessing her shooting in Brooklyn."
I kept looking at the young woman's photo in the paper. She's identified as Fatima Gordon, 28, and she died screaming her boy's name after an alleged shooter on a bicycle fired several rounds at a couple of men in Brooklyn. I thought:
Did Fatima have time to stop and think about anything?
Did Fatima have time to protect her child from the bullets like a woman did in Brooklyn shielding kids from the bullets outside a bogeda corner store before she died literally on the street.
Or Did Fatima have time to assess her young life? Or wonder where were her protectors?
I have heard the arguments, guns don't kill people, people kill people.
But I have to agree with Mayor Bloomberg. What if that person didn't have the gun in the first place?
On the same day I looked at the New York Post regarding the shooting of the young mother, there had been another shooting... this one at a supermarket in Old Bridge New Jersey where one worker killed two employees and himself.
Here yet another headline that should scare every American. This time from the New York Daily News.
'Amid Chicago crime wave, 17-year-old shot a block away from President Obama's house in the Kenwood area."
"Chicago has been hit with a recent surge in violent crime, that in recent weeks has included two shootings of young men within blocks of the Obama household."
Many of us respect the second amendment and the right to bear arms, but folks we have got to do something, and demand more of our elected officials to combat guns, and certainly assault weapons.
Our Children deserve better.