By Sam Doku, PhD
Earlier this week, Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has been disturbed by the incessant black-on-black homicides in the District of Columbia, held a press conference and announced her disapproval and disappointment of the black-on-black homicides that topped 106, surpassing that at the same time last year in Washington, DC.
Before Mayor Bowser’s press conference, however, Bishop Kofi Adonteng-Boateng in his sermon a week earlier, castigated the black-on-black homicides in black communities, equating that to arising from jealousy, envy, and lack of appreciation of black identity.
“Many black youths today still are embroiled in slave mentality where they do not appreciate their blackness. They think to be black means one lacks talent; one is stupid and lazy, and one is hopeless. So, they are filled with envy, jealousy, anger, and frustration. The result is that they take consolation from the gun and kill tactlessly and ruthlessly, thinking that will validate their manhood,” said the founder of Divine Word International Ministries.
The reckless killings across the country this year has brought to the fore the need for a more serious look at the easy accessibility of guns in society where anyone with a couple of hundred dollars can go and buy a firearm. Lax in implementing effective gun laws is the cause of the nation’s homicidal woes, some have argued.
Others claim that too many sick people are able to lay their hands on guns, so serious attention needs to be paid to mental illness in the country. Still, others argue that America needs to follow the example of other advanced nations like Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, and France where the homicide rate is less than 2 percent annually because of the lack of easy accessibility to guns.
However, the latter argument is one some politicians do not want to hear because they are allegedly heavily funded by the National Rifles Association (NRA). The reality though is that in DC, the homicide rate has spiked an incredible 43 percent over last year, prompting the mayor to invest $15 million into the District’s security agencies to help stem the spiral.
As Black Lives Matter protesters laced the mayor’s conference with their presence that soon became a discomfort to her, she promised the audience that she “wouldn’t be shouted down or distracted by the protesters” and that she has “every confidence in Police Chief Cathy Lanier to get the job done.”
In DC, the problem is not with racist police killing unarmed black men at the least provocation; it is the wanton manner in which frustrated young black men kill one another. Probably, if the Black Lives Matter activists will visit various quadrants in the District and let the youth know and appreciate the importance of their lives as black men, it would build confidence and self-esteem into them, and they will begin looking at life with different perspectival lenses.
Six percent of the almost 60 people arrested this year on homicide charges were recidivists while nearly 50 percent had prior arrests on gun-related charges, said the mayor.
The mayor and the police cannot do it alone; they need the assistance of the community to save young black lives that are peregrinating between getting an education and committing homicides.