Most of the great problems we face are caused by politicians creating solutions to problems they created in the first place.  Walter E. Williams 

Minneapolis is among cities that is talking about partially defunding the police department.  Some crime prevention programs that had begun to work were cut.

“I think what we see has happened is a reduction in policing, particularly the kinds of policing that might be expected to have the most effect on homicides and shooting crimes,” said former judge and current law professor at the University of Utah, Paul Cassell.  This concept, referred to as “the Minnesota Effect”, was the topic of discussion along with Lawrence Rosenthal, a law professor at Chapman University in Orange, CA. at a virtual event held in March by the Heritage Foundation.  Their premise:  the anti-policing rhetoric, actions, and protests after the George Floyd murder might not be all there is to the story of rising gun violence and the fear currently shrouding North and South side neighborhoods. 

A few quick facts.  High homicide rates continued long after the protests ceased.  The structural damage was a reminder as many young people especially could not quell their anger and disgust.  Most of the homicides occurred outside of the riot areas and were not in excess during warmer months which had been the norm so far.  Gun sales increased in March, but the surge of killings didn’t start until the end of May. They concluded the pandemic was an unlikely culprit in that the homicides began to increase over two months before the reality of a deadly virus was accepted by the previous administration.  A probable cause was the redeployment of police to protests and riot locations.  After the somewhat calming of the riot areas, police morale was low due to anti-police sentiments.  Quite a few left the force and moved to other areas and the ones remaining pulled back.

In search of theories as to why a 6-year-old child would lose her precious life in her mother’s car on her way home from McDonald’s and as the date of this writing, both an 8 and 10 ten-year-old lie in a coma in the same hospital holding on to dear life by the grace of God, even those explanations are perplexing.  According to Rosenthal and Cassell, aggressive policing can lead to violent confrontations where an officer’s judgment can be questioned.  De-policing calls for answering the demands for systemic reforms and more effective management within police departments. Sadly, as Diana Hawkins, co-host and Executive Director for the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council reports, “people are afraid to come out of their homes.” 

A year or so ago, the late economics professor Walter E. Williams might have offered food for thought.  “The greatest danger for a Black man in America today is another Black man.  Black people need to have frank conversations among ourselves no matter how uncomfortable and embarrassing the topics may be.”  Williams suggests that Black people should patrol their own neighborhoods armed while ignoring the liberal agenda.

Many believe, as does the ‘field marshal’ as he is referred to by the host and decades long friend, a full-throttle campaign that activates the information infrastructure of the Black community and supports increased presence in numbers in the hot spot areas. In several interviews last week on “Conversations with Al McFarlane”, the host and guests were perplexed and sad.  Local community activist K.G. Wilson’s granddaughter, Aniya Allen, had been robbed of her young life.  Wilson could not describe the pain and disbelief.  So many holes punctured in so many hearts and souls, Wilson said in community vigils and gathering.

Al Flowers, Sr. lost a daughter and Al (A.J.) Flowers Jr. lost a sister to what Dr. BraVada Garret Akinsanya, founder and CEO of the African American Child Wellness Institute entitles ‘a bullet without a name’. 

One could tell the anguish was still raw as they both talked about the fear many people were feeling with the current surge of gang and police violence plaguing the city they love.  The role model for so many young people including his son  says hecontinues to “fight the good fight” making a gallant effort to level the playing field.  The familiar ‘popping’ sounds continue to be heard at a distance.  There seems to be no value on life.  Residents who love their neighborhoods, who have history on the North and South side of Minneapolis, face a quandary:  Do I stay or do I go?  I am responsible for protecting my family. 

Our friend and Kansas City childhood classmate, Kamau King, retired attorney for Coca Cola and now living with his family in Decatur, Georgia just outside of Atlanta, showed the sadness in his face. What was happening in the Twin Cities was happening in Atlanta too.  But he remembers the role models from D.A. Holmes and Central Jr. and Sr. High Schools.  We were expected to succeed and whenever our phenomenal principal, George Perry saw us, there had better been a book for reading in our book satchels, King said.     

In an interview the following day, Dr. Peter Hayden, founder and CEO of Turning Point Inc., spoke of the upcoming anniversary of his own 25-year old daughter’s murder that happened in Atlanta. “She had graduated from Prairie View College and was just taking a short weekend trip with a few of her friends in celebration.  This violent surge brings back so many painful memories, but moving forward, there’s so much work to do, he said.  

The latest shooting came right after Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced a detailed summer safety response, more funding for intervention programs, and a promise to hold Minneapolis police more accountable via new standards and training.  Frey said he is also working with the police department to get more cameras on the street, more officers on patrol, and more funding for victims of trauma.

Beth Moore, a spiritual thinker and writer, once penned, “Faith is without equal in its effects upon the human life. Faith unchallenged ordinarily remains unchanged.”  Faith and hope for our children’s future has been and continues to be challenged not just in Minneapolis, but in major cities with neglected and ignored urban communities that have known this life trek for generations. 

Andrew Bornhoft, Housing Administrator for the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council said, “those who have long been directly impacted appear to let their fearful and angry voices ring out at a distance where no one can hear them.”

And Hayden reminds us, “no matter what has happened in the past, we have babies dying today.  We can’t go around talking about ‘how the ‘man’ has perpetrated injustice and ripped off opportunities for generations.  We have to save our children and ourselves and that means families and neighbors together.”  

Hayden, a native Kansas Citian like McFarlane, King and me, described how we all attended schools named after Black historical heroes, how neighbors watched out for the children on the block, and how great our teachers were as we excelled in fine segregated schools with impressive role models and high expectations.

“The colonial trauma of the Middle Passage from the ancestors on whose shoulders we all stand on today still runs through our DNA.  We know that to be true, today more than ever.  A positive and more determined change of attitude should be the norm after we survived a pandemic, the hell of a dictator that would have surely made people of color ‘fair game’ for demise, and a verdict that not only saved the city of Minneapolis, but cities around the globe.  A Chauvin acquittal might have indeed been the last straw.  And who would have been hurt more but the children.

So, from our guests who have experienced ‘a lot’, let us offer a few solution recommendations. VOTE: make sure all legal documents are in order; volunteer to tutor and help clean up the schools so that our children can be proud and want to come; become a mentor; go back to the concept of block clubs and neighborhood community councils; check on young mothers and seniors in our neighborhoods; explore and inform of available resources; write editorials; support Black media platforms; teach the history of legacy leaders in the communities and city; teach a history  ‘of the people’; support the mayor and the police chief and allow them to do their job; and above all else, find joy and gratitude in your days, sharing that joy with the children.  Give them a hug and open the love and understanding doors so they will feel free to talk and ultimately feel safe.  Ask for help and re-define roles as parents.  We are in critical times and the killing of babies must stop.  Connecting with and supporting The African American Child Wellness Institute (AACWI) is an excellent starting place. 

One of my first articles as a columnist for “Insight News” starting back in August of 2020 was on HIS Works United.  I will never forget one of the distinguished ministers ending his interview with this wonderful smile in a very confident and calm manner saying, “There’s always time and room for prayer.”

Resource:  The Daily Signal - “How ‘Minneapolis Effect’ Explains Surge of Violent Crime in American Cities” by Jarrett Stepman

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