I'm stepping on thin ice with this column. We often refuse to call things as they are for fear of offending someone. My experience is that those who are offended by the facts are simply looking for a reason to be offended (many of them seem to actually enjoy wallowing in their sensitivity). So I might as well state the truth.

Here goes. We have a huge problem in the city where I live (Little Rock) with Black-on-Black crime. So do other Arkansas cities with large numbers of young Black males; places such as Pine Bluff, Helena and Blytheville. How are we ever going to address the problem if we can't even properly articulate it?

I realize the aforementioned wallowers will say these are the rantings of a white male above the age of 60. I called my friend of many years, fellow Arkadelphia native Fitz Hill, to tell him about the column I intended to write. His immediate response: "The numbers speak for themselves."

Hill has been a high achiever throughout his life. When he was head football coach at San Jose State, he was one of the few Black head coaches at the FBS level of college football. When he later served as president of Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock, he founded the Derek Olivier Research Institute to study the problem of gun violence among Black males. Here are the statistics Hill supplied:

• A Black male is murdered by another Black male every 50 minutes on average in this country.

• Between 18 and 25 Black males are killed each day in the United States.

• Homicide is the No. 1 killer of Black males ages 1-44.

• Since 1950, more than 6,000 Black males have been killed annually. The number of Black males that have been killed by other Black males during the past seven decades is greater than the total U.S. deaths in World War II.

• A Black male is killed about every six days in Little Rock. Little Rock is 42 percent Black, but more than 90 percent of homicides are committed by Blacks in a typical year. The figure is also above 90 percent in Pine Bluff.

• Black-on-Black murders in this century are 26 times greater than Black lynchings in the previous century.

In addition to refusing to admit what the problem is, we're inflicted with the urge to politicize everything. Black-on-Black crime isn't a political issue. It's a criminal justice issue. As far as long-term solutions, it's also a societal issue.

But, as is so often the case, we divide up into our red and blue camps. Red: Hire more police officers and step up crime-prevention efforts. Blue: The answer is prevention and intervention programs.

Guess what? It's not either/or; it's both/and.

Our sad tendency to split into opposing political camps was never more evident than in the wake of the George Floyd murder in May 2020. U.S. businesses were browbeat into contributing to Black Lives Matter, a fringe political organization. Whatever happened to giving to proven social justice organizations such as the NAACP and Urban League?

According to BLM's Form 990, it spent more than $37 million of the $90 million it raised on high-end real estate, so-called consultants and additional sketchy items. As Ernest Owens wrote for the Daily Beast: "Following the reveal of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation's IRS tax documents, it's now safe to say that there's something questionable going on."

The virtue-signaling by woke whites reached ridiculous extremes. The editor of one Little Rock-based magazine, for example, devoted an entire page to writing the phrase "black lives matter" over and over in various type sizes and fonts.

Where are these corporations and individuals when it comes to fighting the very real issue of Black-on-Black crime? Most are missing in action.

"There is no evidence that police officers kill unarmed Black men daily," Jason Riley writes in The Wall Street Journal. "Black deaths at the hands of police are statistically rare, and those involving unarmed suspects are rarer still. Arrests in the U.S. number more than 10 million in a typical year. According to a database maintained by The Washington Post, police shot 1,054 people in 2021, including 234 whites and 139 Blacks. Thirty-three of those shooting victims were unarmed, including eight whites and six Blacks.

"Meanwhile, Black homicides not involving police numbered more than 7,700 in 2019 and more than 9,900 in 2020. ... These civilian shooting deaths are the real scourge of low- income Black communities, but highlighting them doesn't advance the left's political agenda. So activists . . . choose to keep the focus on law enforcement, even if it means distorting the truth and smearing police."

Riley correctly notes that the narratives being pushed by those on the political left are dangerous.

"They provide encouragement to the millions of Americans who have chosen to demonstrate against law enforcement in recent years, sometimes violently," Riley writes. "They help explain why soft-on-crime policies are back in vogue, why police departments have trouble recruiting new officers and why the number of cops killed last year grew by nearly 60 percent."

In Little Rock, where Black-on-Black shootings have dominated the news this year, we're in what I would describe as a triage situation. We must first stop the bleeding, and the best way to do that in the short term is to make it a priority to fill dozens of vacancies in the Little Rock Police Department. Why it's not already the priority of the mayor, city manager and members of the Little Rock Board of Directors is beyond me.

If they were to travel the state as much as I do, they would realize that Little Rock's image across Arkansas is being damaged in ways that will take years to turn around. Do they not understand that there are major economic consequences as rural Arkansans quit coming to the capital city for medical appointments, to shop, to eat out and to attend events?

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. campaigned in part in 2018 on the promise that he would add 25 officers to the force each year for four years. Not only have officers not been added, the number of vacancies has grown. If bonuses need to be tripled in order to fill those vacancies, so be it. It's triage. If people have to be laid off in other departments to afford it, so be it. The future of Little Rock rests in the balance.

What can businesses and individuals across Arkansas do? While elected officials focus on the present, businesses and individuals can address the future with their financial contributions and volunteer hours. Rather than throwing money away by giving it to questionable national organizations such as BLM, they can contribute to proven groups at the local level.

One must be careful in this arena. There are a lot of nonprofit organizations that sound good on the surface when it comes to prevention and intervention but do little more than fatten the pocketbooks of those on their paid staffs. During the four years I worked for the Delta Regional Authority, I was shocked by the number of such groups in this region. Trust me, too many are in it to make money rather than to reduce Black-on-Black crime.

Here in Arkansas, I suggest contributions to historically Black colleges and universities: the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Arkansas Baptist, Philander Smith College and Shorter College. Nothing will do more to reduce crime than building the ranks of the Black middle class. And the surest route to the middle class is a college degree.

"You can't fix it if you don't talk about it," Hill says of Black-on-Black crime. "It's a crisis of epic proportions. If a Black male can get to the age of 45, heart disease rather than gun violence becomes the leading cause of death.

"I pray daily that my son and son-in-law make it to at least 45. Doing something about this scourge is my life's work now."

Rex Nelson is a senior editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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Black on Black

5 0 1
09.10.2022

I'm stepping on thin ice with this column. We often refuse to call things as they are for fear of offending someone. My experience is that those who are offended by the facts are simply looking for a reason to be offended (many of them seem to actually enjoy wallowing in their sensitivity). So I might as well state the truth.

Here goes. We have a huge problem in the city where I live (Little Rock) with Black-on-Black crime. So do other Arkansas cities with large numbers of young Black males; places such as Pine Bluff, Helena and Blytheville. How are we ever going to address the problem if we can't even properly articulate it?

I realize the aforementioned wallowers will say these are the rantings of a white male above the age of 60. I called my friend of many years, fellow Arkadelphia native Fitz Hill, to tell him about the column I intended to write. His immediate response: "The numbers speak for themselves."

Hill has been a high achiever throughout his life. When he was head football coach at San Jose State, he was one of the few Black head coaches at the FBS level of college football. When he later served as president of Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock, he founded the Derek Olivier Research Institute to study the problem of gun violence among Black males. Here are the statistics Hill supplied:

• A Black male is murdered by another Black male every 50 minutes on average in this country.

• Between 18 and 25 Black males are killed each day in the United States.

• Homicide is the No. 1 killer of Black males ages 1-44.

• Since 1950, more than 6,000 Black males have been killed annually. The number of Black males that have been killed by other Black males during the past seven decades is greater than the total U.S. deaths in World War II.

• A Black male is killed about every six days in Little Rock. Little Rock is 42 percent Black, but more than 90 percent of homicides are committed by Blacks in a typical year.........

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