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Thursday, January 21, 2021

How can we end the crisis that threatens our community?

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“While the world is torn by terrorism and war, a crisis is threatening America today like never before. Many families and tight-knit communities are crumbling at an alarming rate. We need to see this as a reality, not something to just talk about but to act on.

“Many people ask themselves: ‘What can I do? What can be done? How can I be helped? Where do I start?’”

– Excerpt from “Come on People” by Bill Cosby and Dr. Alvin Poussaint

I’m sure the above questions were some of the very ones James Harrington of Mount Vernon Community Missionary Baptist Church asked himself while planning for a Westside community meeting last week. I’m also willing to bet that he really wanted the meeting to be something that offered solutions to the seemingly tense relationship between some in the Black community and IMPD officers.

Unfortunately, as well-intended as Harrington may have been, staging a fight that resulted in a police officer being injured was an absurd idea that, if anything, added fuel to the very fire he was trying to extinguish.

Setting up a police officer and placing him as well as other attendees in harm’s way is not going to improve police and community relations. Harrington’s actions were grossly inappropriate and unnecessary. Many in the Black community agree as the Recorder’s e-mail and phone lines were inundated with comments from people expressing their dismay.

Aside from the incident itself, the saddest element of this entire ordeal was that such unfortunate attention has been drawn to Mount Vernon during the week of its pastor’s death. Rev. Roosevelt Sanders was a wonderful steward of the community and he did a tremendous job of not only helping the public, but also keeping the legacy of his late father, Rev. Mozel Sanders, alive.

While Harrington’s actions were wrong and the incident shouldn’t be swept under the rug, I urge everyone to use the coming days as a reflection of the great deeds of Roosevelt Sanders. It’s our responsibility to honor his legacy by accentuating the positive things he’s done for our city.

As I write this editorial, I do so with a heavy heart. Not only regarding the death of Roosevelt Sanders, but also because of the current state of affairs within the Black community. It has been incredibly disappointing for me to turn on the television and see the news lately. It saddens me to know that the bulk of the mayhem this city has faced in recent weeks is because of the actions of my brothers and sisters. To know that people have vengefully committed acts with the sole purpose of hurting others is something that I can’t seem to wrap my mind around. It baffles me to know that people are so callous.

So, while I write this column with a heavy heart, I also do so with a confused mind. I’m confused because I understand how deeply rooted the problems of perpetrators are. I also know how widespread the problems are and how many resources are needed to effectively combat the crisis that we’re currently facing. I’m confused because I find myself wondering how many more lives will be lost before tangible solutions are implemented and positive change is under way. Hopefully and prayerfully, something can be done soon to combat crime before we find ourselves in the midst of an epidemic.

On a separate note, most schools begin on Aug. 11. Parents, please do all you can to ensure that your child makes it to school on the first day. I commend IPS Superintendent Dr. Eugene White for his overt efforts to inform the community of this important day. There is no excuse why children shouldn’t arrive to school on the first day, dressed in the appropriate attire and equipped with supplies (there are countless back to school giveaways that are offering free supplies. See the story on page A1.) Parents, or those of you who are a guardian or mentor for a child, it’s time to step up and get our kids off to a great start of the year.

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