Reply to the Omaha World-Herald OpEd Piece
There was an editorial by Weysan Dun, a retired and former special agent of the FBI in the OWH 11-1-2020. The title was “Promoting justice while acknowledging crime data.” Mr. Dun alluded that in Black Communities they are frustrated because they are “ignored and marginalized.” He goes on to say that advancement toward equality is followed by setback. There are still income and wealth disparities between white and African Americans. Therefore, what is he and other apologists basing this setback to equality? African Americans have never (as a whole…lest we forget certain opportunists or hand-picked personalities willing to seek their own individual advancement over the community’s) enjoyed parity with white incomes or their wealth in this country.
It was silly to read that the larger, important messages are lost to the white community when strident voices advocating on behalf of the Black community is focused on “divisive rhetoric and criticism.” We live in a country that has practiced 450 years plus of slavery and Jim Crowism, and people who have experienced historical traumas don’t have a right to be angry, upset, or mad that billions of dollars were not paid to their ancestors or descendants because of slavery and Jim Crowism. Crime in the African American community is clearly understood by many as manifestation of poverty, and neglect by public and private institutional that proport to help uplift those families and groups. For every case is reactions and many can postulate other factors for high crime.
However, what systematic anti-crime programs are we dealing with challenges by going upstream to bring part of this discussion across racial lines. Merely giving dark skin convicted criminals twice or three times the time in prisons or jails as the contrast with whites is not fairness or equal treatment. It is painful when we have county attorneys or public defenders using their offices to practice racial apartheid in the justice system. How can we account for almost 50 to 60 percent of those behind bars for crimes where whites with access to the best legal minds and judges that money can buy get less time? The available data speak for itself.
In this community, law enforcement officials are not conducting meaningful community relations when they spend an excessive amount of time focused on children or youth of color while ignoring the parents and communities where those children and youth come from. The newly proposed holiday pay for law enforcement on Juneteenth illustrates there is this slavecentric mentality. Hence we have such wasting a community initiative called 360’s weekly meetings where good people gather each week to tell jokes, pray for peace, and swap stories about crime factors where they have no control over.(or do little to take control over to address as opposed to just acknowledge). Meanwhile, the victims of American democracy are nowhere in their sights.
Police frequently arrive well after the crime is committed, and the measure of their success should be in solving crimes, not committing them. One only needs to examine the in- custody murders by law enforcement over the years, Grand Jury findings and contrast it to the number of seconds law enforcement have spent in jails in this community or state. There is a greater chance a law enforcement member will spend more time in jail or prison for a sex-related offense rather than suspicious killings of a person of color. It was disingenuous for Mr. Dun to cite the percentage of shootings, victims of homicides, and other data without citing the raw numbers.
During my attendance at the many 360’s brainwashing meetings, I was told crime had dropped tremendously over the past ten years. However, when we examine the number of years lost by locking African Americans and Latinos in Nebraskan prisons and jails, there appear to be double standards. Suppose there are two homicides a year that is vastly different than ten doubling to twenty. This is how law enforcement officials hide or are not transparent about their numbers regarding race. Moreover, it was reported that some years the Omaha Police Department did not report their crime numbers to the national crime data bank. How can we work as a village when government officials are hiding racial data?
There are implicit examples where defending “white supremacy” in his editorial illustrates we have severe problems in this community. Over the years, law enforcement officials have been members of the KKK in Nebraska and other white supremacy groups. The Nebraska state patrol had to fire one member for his membership. Meanwhile, the University of Nebraska Omaha has a course on gangs (code word African Americans) while ignoring the vast number of supremacy or right (white) wing officials hiding behind blue lives matter rhetoric. If we are serious about reducing crime in communities, it requires more than tokenism press conferences, new laws on the books when there are other laws that are cover for dealing with specific racial groups. One of the laws that we should get rid of is “resisting arrest” or the piling on with multifarious infractions so that the public-pretenders and county attorneys can lock up low-income people of color.
Let me count the ways how societal divides obfuscate the problems when one talks about racism and white hegemony or domination in the so-called colorblind legal and public institutions. Who gets to white-explain that speaking about white supremacy is counterproductive? How many whites are given options where many youths of color packed our juvenile justice system? These numbers did not occur overnight but emerged by legal forces over-criminalization of African Americans, Latino, and other youth of color. The school to prison pipeline is not a creation of people of color but part of the yellow brick road that begins in the oppressive public schools’ regimes.
We cannot ignore the tragic historical holocaust of slavery, genocide to the African Americans and Native American community as having no reverence to the current conditions in this community or state and country. I am willing to bet that the FBI and other hangouts where Mr. Dun worked did not have one half of the percent of people of color working in those circles during his whole career. Therefore, much of his rhetoric does not offer any road maps of how the community can reduce crime and the need for over pollution of our cities with racist law enforcement officials.
A’Jamal-Rashad Byndon, Community Advocate for Real Justice.
A’Jamal Byndon is Chair of MORE board an organization working to address race equity and anti-racist in our community.
5529 North 111th Street 402-578-6729