Courtland Milloy's recent column "To make black lives matter, black people need to believe it" was one of the most depressing and hopeless columns that I have read in a while. It seemed that Councilmember LaRuby May (Ward 8), the City's newest on the Council, was isolated by the philosophical idealism of the Black Live Matter Movement and the reality of the sounding brass or tinkling cymbals of inner-city politics. It revealed how overwhelmed citizens, residents and their leaders have felt regarding the recent "spike" in the District murder rate. Of the more than 80 reported homicides, 30 or more have occurred in Ward 8 alone. May says, “I’ve been a council member for 72 days, and I’ve already been to seven or eight funerals for people younger than me.” Ward 8 and its dismal societal statistics reveal the blatant disconnect between the people and the City. The Justice Policy Institute asserts that "Given Wards 7 and 8 have a greater percentage of the population aged 0-17, there is a serious need to ensure that an infusion of resources increases educational outcomes for students and residents now and in the future." JPI continues "the highest percentages of people of color are found in Wards 7 and 8, thus indicating significant, disproportionate disadvantage for this segment of the population." Left to the Islands of Gloom and Sorrow, the people have walked away from their Faith and sought the fortunes of victimization and liberation theory. There is no mainland near to secure the bounty of life and thus, the people are trapped in a culture of fear and death. The homicide rate reveals the disconnect between the people and Life itself. The plight so overwhelming that even May must question if Police know how to render Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). She hastens to advise that she knows a CPR Teacher: “She can train people how to perform potentially life-saving procedures so we don’t have to wait around for police." In the sea of forgetfulness, an island gasps. Amongst such dreary notices, the roof has been pulled back to reveal the faithless sirens coercing the despairing bound to sing the misery of #blacklivesmatter. In the words of My Great Negro Mother, "What a Mess!"
CPR is needed in the East of the River Wards but not Cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Wednesday, in my Benning Ridge neighborhood, a three year old girl, Dalis Cox, is accidentally shot and killed by her seven year old brother with an unregistered handgun. Last night, just a few blocks from my residence, an eight year old girl was shot in the arm. The child's aunt says the girl is "very lively, she's smart, she's very outgoing and she's got her whole life ahead of her." Not at this rate. So what's the plan? There has got to be a plan. You know, there has go to be "a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc., developed in advance". Yes, derived from the Latin planum meaning "scheme of action, design", there has got to be a plan. The City has a $13. 1 Billion Budget prescribed for Fiscal Year 2016. There has go to be a plan! Right? Courtland Milloy writes:
"After giving that grim overview, May then had to concede that no sustainable crime prevention plan exists for the ward, that at-risk youths aren’t participating in government-run programs aimed at helping them stay out of trouble and that some neighborhood public safety meetings are so poorly attended that “it’s not even worth having a meeting because people are not involved.”"
Did I Not Say at my daughter's, Charnice Milton, funeral, "NOT ANOTHER MEETING!" Never has there been a greater cry amongst the People than now for Leadership, Vision, Direction and Guidance. The CPR Needed East of the River and throughout the City of Washington and Georgetown is "Churches, Parents and Representatives"!
Churches--and I do mean, Spiritually Mature--are as needed in our neighborhoods as a hospice patient desires an IV of fluids. A community smothered in the doctrinal promulgation of black lives matter movement and living the demographic statistical wonders of the inner-city do not need serenades of "white cops killing black people" or "the white man holding the black man down". Those oppressed with misery do not want any more messengers of misfortune preaching to them. They need, want and desire "Lionchasers" that are willing to speak Truth to Power. They need to hear the Godly words of a culture of life and liberty rather than the insatiable whispers of the culture of death and fear. People want to see a Christianity that lives beyond the four walls of the building that occupies space on their block and is causing local parking issues on Sunday. They are looking for organized efforts to reach them in their neighborhood rather than faith based groups fighting over who's giving the most Back-to-School bags out this August. They want to see trans-suburban ministers sending agents of change to community meetings and partaking in the political, economical and educational choices of their jurisdiction in the Kingdom of God. I know, I know, what about my 501(c)3? Yes, yes, I remember in Revelations 63 verse 15, Jesus talking about that 501(c)3 thang. It must have been much more complicated for Him to keep His since He told His Contractors to "Go Into All of the World"! Wow! Imagine what His Legal Department had to go through! Ministers, it is time for you to render to Ceasar's what is Ceasar's and to Him Who Holds the World In His Hands what is His. The people are His.
The 501(c)3 may be going the way of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The Catholic News Agency has released the names of six foundations that have recently donated millions to groups and campaigns to eliminate any religious exemption under the First Amendment from federal, state or municipal human rights regulations, requiring couples in same-sex “marriages” be treated the same as heterosexual married couples. You may want to place your confidence in something more secure that the promise of government. Yes, some of your pew sitters may be rooting against you. For the sake of public safety and neighborhood prosperity, you are needed and your Faith is needed. Hence, your labor will not be in vain if you support the pursuit of a comprehensive sustainable crime prevention plan. One that includes you and your churches' active participation. Rev Donald Issac, Sr., Anacostia Coordinating Council Faith Committee Chair, shares the need, want and desire for viable culture change and persistent church involvement. He is hosting the Ward 8 Faith Leaders Breakfast Meeting on Saturday, August 8, 2015 from 9 Am to 11 AM at the Delaware Avenue Baptist Church, 1301 V Street SE, Washington, DC 20020. We encourage your church to send your Pastor or Priest or one of his "Lionchasers" sitting on the pew waiting for his or her time to preach to attend. Please confirm your attendance by contacting 202-889-4900 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Courtney R. Snowden, DC Deputy Mayor of Greater Economic Opportunity, will attend. We know that the true key to economic prosperity is a public that feels safe in and out of your community.
We need parents. Community policing is the system of allocating police officers to particular areas so that they become familiar with the local inhabitants. In the District of Columbia, it has failed because the first and sometimes only citizens and residents that become familiar with the police are our children either as victims or culprits. Parents are protectors or guardians. Derived from the Latin parere, the term means "bring forth, give birth to, produce." In spite of the best intentions, community policing will never work if parents are not involved. Parents bring forth children and are responsible to guard, protect and raise them to the day that the children create their own families. As protectors, they are responsible for reporting those persons and things that put the safety of the family and neighborhood at risk. As guardians, they do not choose being liked by their kids over loving their children. Illegally possessing firearms, upholding children selling drugs for the sake of financial security and even upholding children that murder in a web of silence is not the parenting that secures a neighborhood and protects or community. If Washington is to ever grow out of its culture of death and fear then, we need parents that are willing to bring it forth. Government can and should enforce the law. Government can not raise good children. Government can and should identify the idiot in the village. Government can not daily remind the children of what is morally right and wrong and upholding them in unrighteousness. The role of parent, often infringed upon by government, must be uplifted and lived, not by people but by people that are willing to save the City and change the culture. Resources must be prioritized to build mature parents that raise good children and secure a city. Our lives depend upon it.
Finally, we need representatives. It is overwhelming for 13 people to manage a $13 Billion Budget, the check against the powers of a strong Mayor and serve the needs of over 660,000 persons. Pride says that our current unicameral system serves us with brilliance and precision. However, I question whether the pursuits of the deliberative body match the will of the people and if the agenda of the powerful overshadows the fears and deaths of the isolated. From Latin "delegare", we need Godly persons that We the People "send with a commission". Delegates that are answerable to a smaller body thus, giving representation to the smallest common denominator of citizens and residents. We need a bicameral legislature. We need it now!
Why a bicameral legislature rather than an Inner-City Council? A smaller legislature is likely to challenge a strong Mayor on agendas and ideology prevents many from diverting to common sense legislation. The moment thoughtless legislation passes the people suffer. There is no room for deliberation and second consideration. As well, $13 billion in the hands of 13 persons is less likely to accord the diverse concerns of the total population. The Organic Act of 1871 created a new government for the city that composed a 11-member council and a locally elected 22-member assembly. The more attention that a representative can give his people, the better the voice of the people will be to the whole.
I know, I know, we will spend a fortune trying to develop a body of representatives. Imagine the work and detail required. I say phooey! We have a body with legislative abilities without the powers of a true legislature--our Advisory Neighborhood Commissions. These entities consider a wide range of policies and programs affecting their neighborhoods, including traffic, parking, recreation, street improvements, liquor licenses, zoning, economic development, police protection, sanitation and trash collection, and the District's annual budget. Commissioners serve two-year terms and receive no salary. That could change in a governance reform. Each Commissioner represents approximately 2,000 residents in his or her Single Member District (SMD) area. A far better representation ratio than currently offered. There are 299 SMD's that should be involved in annual budget process and none discounted for expertise. The more diverse and more populated we become, the more power should be vested in the ANC's and less in the Council.
East of the River Voices have been silenced for various reasons. Churches, Parents and Representatives can bring forth a Culture of Life and Liberty rather than a Culture of Fear and Death. Our Lives Depend On It.