100 Black Men of America’s Response to Shootings in Dallas
100 Black Men of America extends its condolences to the families, friends and community members of the slain officers in Dallas. These men and women of law enforcement were reverently and honorably performing their duties to serve and protect their community. There is no justification for these murders, as there is no justification for the recent murders of Alston Sterling and Philando Castile in Louisiana and Minnesota.
It has been a challenging week for the American people, as we mourn the losses of spouses, parents, children and loved ones. The 100 condemns all acts of violence and feels as strongly about these murders. Any suggestion that this type of “retaliatory action” is warranted, contradicts our beliefs as an organization.
Our resolve to stand up and champion meaningful and sustainable change is stronger than ever. The advancement and implementation of community policing, bias training, implementation of the federal task force recommendations and the modification of gun control laws are all ways that we can continue to make a difference in our communities.
We have been in close contact with our chapters across the country to engage, educate and spur dialog with local law enforcement officials, elected officials and members of the community. It is clear that the heinous killings of our family and community members must stop.
We must rise to the occasion and find a sustainable solution. The future of our communities and our country depends on it.
100 Black Men of America extends its condolences to the families of Tyre King, Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott who were fatally killed during encounters with police officers. Although the circumstances in each instance are different, the loss felt by these travesties is not.
Human life is and must be sacred. Whenever anyone is killed, we should all grieve the loss of the individual and the potential contributions that will never be realized, especially when the life is taken by someone who is sworn and entrusted to protect and serve the very life taken. 100 Black Men of America continues to be incensed as we witness yet another series of law enforcement officers demonstrating their total disrespect for black lives. According to the Washington Post data base, in July Philando Castile was the 506th fatal police shooting by an on-duty officer in 2016. The number has now risen to over 700.
There is strong sentiment that each of these encounters could have been resolved without the use of deadly force! 100 Black Men of America stands with the families and communities in the demand for independent and transparent investigations.
As these travesties in our communities continue seemingly unabated, our chapter network will continue to implement and champion sustainable change. We have held conversations, hosted meetings and forums, developed activities and trainings and leveraged our influence with our youth, law enforcement, community members, and federal, state and local leaders to realize change. We have been successful in advancing the implementation of community policing, bias training, use of force guidelines and federal task force recommendations in cities that we serve. Yet, if law enforcement agencies continue to fail to take swift actions to adopt tools, policies and procedures that hold their officers more accountable, we will continue to see this type of appalling use of deadly force and unconscionable loss of life.
We urge community members across the country to engage in productive, deliberate and effective activities that yield real solutions to the very real problem of black men not surviving encounters with law enforcement. Leverage your influence to schedule and participate in meetings with your local leadership to advocate for sustainable change and hold them accountable for taking actions consistent with the recommendations included in the President’s Report on 21st Century Community Policing before another husband, father, brother, son, student, family and community member suffers a similar fatal encounter.
100 Black Men of America supports the Constitutional right of Americans to peacefully demonstrate and call attention to the injustices happening across the country.
Americans, including communities of color, have an expectation that law enforcement will afford them the same civil rights given to others. As we await the release of the facts, the video of DeRay McKesson’s arrest suggests that this is yet another example of a blatant disregard for civil rights. An officer’s request for compliance should be an action that can be reasonably followed. Arresting an individual for failing to stay on a sidewalk, when there isn’t one, suggests an abuse of authority by the police officers involved.
We implore law enforcement to adhere to the basic tenets of civil rights, which include articulating to a citizen the purpose of their arrest, the law(s) they allegedly violated, and sharing their Miranda Rights.
Our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and local and federal laws provide explicit details on how all citizens should be treated; failure to do so will only incite more tension and bolster demands for justice.
Over the past couple of days we have worked with our chapters on the ground and received constant updates regarding their efforts and actions surrounding the reprehensible tragedy of another father, husband, provider and community member stolen. That’s how we at the 100 Black Men of America Inc. feel about the killing of Alton Sterling at the Triple S Food Mart, just 70 yards from the doorstep of the 100 Black Men of America of Greater Baton Rouge Limited, Ltd.
Rather than being outraged, for far too many there has been some rationalization or even justification of why this father was murdered. John Bel Edwards, Louisiana’s governor, whose brother, father, grandfather and great-grandfather have all served as sheriffs of his home parish of Tangipahoa, said he is “disturbed” by the video of the killing. To those, who feel as if their people are being exterminated with impunity, disturbed doesn’t begin to express our feelings.
According to a Washington Post data base that tracks such shootings, Sterling’s death, at the time this was first written, was the 505th fatal police shooting by an on-duty officer in 2016. You can make that 506 now with the killing of Philando Castile Wednesday in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Multiple data bases reveal unarmed black people were killed at a rate of more than 5 times the rate of unarmed whites in 2015. Only 10 of the 102 cases in 2015 where an unarmed black person was killed by police resulted in an officer(s) being charged with a crime; and only 2 of these deaths (Matthew Ajibade and Eric Harris) resulted in convictions of the officers involved. Of these, only 1 of the 2 officers convicted for their involvement in Matthew Ajibade’s death received jail time. He was sentenced to 1 year in jail and allowed to serve this time exclusively on weekends.
To those, who have now seen this same disgusting and offensive behavior time and time again, with little to no accountability, it is horrific; and any suggestion that people feeling anything less is a showing of naked hostility towards rationale thought.
When will the slaughter of African Americans by those sworn to protect and serve us end?
Governor Edwards, has called for calm. The 100 is calling for productive engagement by our community that yields real solutions to the very real problem of black men not surviving encounters with people who have been sworn to protect them. We have and will continue to galvanize voting contingents to hold our political and community leaders accountable for these failures. We are expanding our involvement at all levels of law enforcement and within communities to keep our family members and children safe. We are not standing idly by, as these travesties continue.
Failure to get engaged will yield the same results – another hundred husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, family and community members cold on the sidewalk or in the street.
100 Black Men of America, Inc. (The 100) recently participated in a televised discussion on gun violence called “The Gun Fight.” Since the taping of that show, gun violence in our communities has become even more personal because it has again directly impacted more of our mentees.
Zaevion Dobson had been a mentee of 100 Black Men of Greater Knoxville since he was 8 years old. You’ve heard his story: The standout sophomore football player at Fulton High School in Knoxville, Tenn. was attending a gathering of teammates and friends when a gunman drove by opening fire. Without regard for his own life, Zaevion dove on top of three young ladies to shield them. He gave his life that day. Weeks later in Washington, D.C., another 100 mentee was walking down the street, when a car pulled up and one of its passengers said, “If you want to live, you need to run.” He began running, and they began shooting. The mentee was shot, but unlike Zaevion, he will survive. But with what scars?
I realize that there are many contributing factors to this carnage in our communities and no single answer to end this rampant disrespect for life. Too many people merely want to debate gun policy and gun laws, while our children are being murdered at places they are supposed to be – homes, churches, schools and playgrounds.
Gun violence is a critical public health issue impacting communities of every economic stature and ethnic demographic nationally. The FBI’s 2014 Crime in the United States report found that 82 percent of whites murdered by guns where killed by other whites. Similarly, 90 percent of blacks murdered by guns where killed by other blacks. The mental and physical health affects of gun violence, however, impact us all. If we don’t stop the rhetoric and start investing in interventions that impact young people’s lives, we will continue to suffer consequences of gun violence in cities nationwide.
The 100’s mentoring services teach youth how to make better choices, provide guidance on setting and achieving goals, and demonstrate how to diffuse situations before they escalate to tragic consequences. Our economic empowerment programs promote job skills training, financial literacy and entrepreneurship. Our health and wellness initiatives increase students’ school attendance rates, which have a direct impact on their ability to learn, earn and succeed. That’s why education reform is one of The 100’s top priorities, and we are pushing hard in our advocacy efforts with local and national policy-makers to ensure that every student in every community has access to high-performing schools and high-quality teachers.
Gun violence cut short the life of Zaevion Dobson, one so full of hope and promise. The time for talking and debating is over. We must take swift and decisive action to end this crisis in our communities before another precious life is needlessly lost.