Ferguson Needs New Leaders

Monday, 18 Aug 2014 08:17 AM

By Clarence V. McKee

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Several years ago, I spoke to a mostly white class at the Tampa, Fla., police academy and said that “if you see flashing red lights pulling you over, if you are white, you wonder whether you were speeding, or had a faulty tail light. If you are a black male, you wonder if this will be your last day on this earth!”

Most whites have no conception of such fear.

They just do not understand the fears of black parents who pray every time their black sons, nephews, and grandsons leave home — whether in the North, South, East or West.

They do not have to worry about a call from the police that a father, son, brother, or grandson has been killed in an altercation with police.

Not so with parents of black males such as Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner in New York, who died of an illegal police chokehold for selling contraband cigarettes, since ruled a homicide, and, most recently the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

These and other examples too numerous to list, are the main reason why most blacks usually assume that killings of blacks by white police are unjustified even before all of the facts are in.

As I told Ed Berliner, host of Newsmax TV’s “Midpoint” program recently, “there has been a long simmering frustration” in the nation between law enforcement and black youths. That’s the national reality!

Sadly, that discontent also reflects a larger problem: the lack of understanding by most whites of the racial realities that blacks face on a daily basis.

It’s a real problem that needs to be addressed.

The two people in the United States best equipped to deal with this issue and support a national dialogue are the black president and his black attorney general.

But, there is a major problem: for six years, except for a few comments when it suits his purposes, Trayvon Martin for example, Obama has run away from race related and urban issues faster than a snowman runs from the sun. And Holder, he reserves his racial concerns mostly for racial division and race-baiting.

Deal with the issues of blacks killing blacks in Chicago where young black males and children face being victims of an urban terrorism on a daily basis? Not a chance!

But, they can send 40 FBI agents to tiny Ferguson, Mo., to investigate the killing of a black 18-year-old by a white cop and none to Chicago to investigate the slaughter of several hundreds, including innocent children, by black urban terrorists. What hypocrisy!

The president can have a White House Summit on U.S. relations with Africa and invite African leaders to Washington, yet has not and probably will not convene a White House Summit on the problems and issues related to law enforcement and minority youth.

Why not bring mayors, police chiefs, the National Urban League with its vibrant national network in our cities, black church leaders, and black youth leaders together to discuss this issue and find ways to dissolve the tensions between predominantly white law enforcement and black communities?

I noticed that while the Rev. Al Sharpton said Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton should go to Ferguson and discuss this issue during his remarks at the rally in Ferguson Sunday, he was careful not to ask his friends the President and Attorney General to convene such a Summit.

Racial hypocrisy all over again!

So, what does this have to do with Ferguson? As I said on "Midpoint," “Something is wrong in Ferguson.” It is over 67 percent black and comparable to a latter day plantation:
  • The chief of police and mayor are white
  • Of six city council members, one is black
  • Six out of the 7 school board members are white in a district where over 70 percent of the students are black
  • Of a police force of 53, there are only 3 blacks
  • According to the Los Angeles Times, a state report on racial profiling revealed that last year, 86 percent of traffic stops and 92 percent of all arrests in the city were of black residents
So, what is not right in Ferguson?

As in many other black urban areas, the “folks” are apparently politically asleep. The black people of Ferguson should fight their battles at the ballot box — not the streets!

They bear some responsibility for these statistics. Only 12 percent voted in the last election.

As Sharpton told the rally Sunday, “12 percent  turnout is an insult to your children.”

During the past week of turmoil, why have we not seen or heard from the mayor or members of the city council?

Their absence shows total disrespect for the black people of their city.

Whites apparently talk only to whites and blacks seem to talk only to blacks — there is no inter-racial dialogue and blacks seem to be politically impotent and complacent.

When Missouri state trooper Capt. Ron Johnson, who is black and from that area, was put in charge of law enforcement, his instructions and pleas were ignored by troublemakers among the law abiding protesters who had complained about the virtually all white police force.

Will black leaders and citizens of Ferguson address these political issues and heed Sharpton’s call for political action and involvement?

Will they realize that they get the kind of government they demand and deserve?
Only time will tell.

Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political, and media relations consulting firm in Florida. He held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as in the Reagan presidential campaigns and has appeared on many national and local media outlets. Read more reports from Clarence V. McKee —
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