LOS ANGELES (FinalCall.com) – Charlotte Jordan believes in activism. She schools over 200 troubled children rejected by the local school district. She feeds hungry neighbors. She fights for books in schools and computer literacy. But the murders of two of her three children–one, a daughter, shot 15 times with an assault rifle–launched her into a sphere of activism that many mothers could not imagine.
Ms. Jordan, longtime victims’ advocate Vickey Lindsey, along with approximately 200 Black, Latino and White mothers, reversed the script May 7. Instead of savoring their candlelight dinners, beautiful gifts and rose bouquets along with other moms this Mothers’ Day, they honored their slain children with Mothers on the March, a walk against the violence that claimed the lives of their babies.
“Until we stand up and say that it is not OK to kill our kids, it’s going to continue to happen. I have one more child left,” Ms. Jordan lamented. “In my family, there have been 11 murders. Nobody is immune from this, so we have to speak louder.”
The march began at four high crime points of South L.A., and culminated at Leimert Park, with an awareness rally of prayer, speeches, song, music and networking.
Ms. Lindsey’s son, Lionel, was shot and killed while riding in the car with friends, but no one was prosecuted because the police cited a lack of evidence.
“How do you have lack of evidence when you have a body and a vehicle? We say get involved by choice and not by force, because this will affect everyone,” she stressed.
March sponsors included Project Cry No More, All Voices Unite, Women Against Guns, Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK) and Saint Matthews Tabernacle of Praise Event. These groups provide resources, counseling and healing support to families whose children have been murdered.
The Intruders rendition of “I’ll Always Love My Mama” and Tupac Shakur’s “Dear Mama” heralded from loudspeakers. And then, the reality of the number of children cut down by violence in L.A. alone became painfully evident during Ms. Lindsey’s notorious victim shout-outs.
Shirley Harris, MASK’s vice president, took a two-hour drive from Bakersfield to show solidarity. “We’re all on the same page and want to see these senseless killings stop through community awareness. We are all one family and we need to stand together to bring about a change,” she urged.
According to Women Against Gun Violence, three out of four youth murdered die from gunfire, and more teens in the U.S. are killed by guns than in any other country in the industrialized world.
“We cannot wait for the police department or some benevolent politicians to stop this killing. We have to come out of our houses, and start patrolling the streets. Our children are waiting on us to take control and we cannot fear the very lives of babies we have given birth to,” stated Nation of Islam Western Regional Minister Tony Muhammad.
A table of truth
Two blocks away, at the Lucy Florence Coffee House, a coalition of Black politicians, clergy, professors, artists and activists convened the first California Black Leadership roundtable to address the escalating violence and promote and defend the interest of Blacks within California.
Participants included convener Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally, David Cunningham III (LAPD Commission president), Min. Tony, Assemblyman Mark Ridley Thomas, L.A. City Councilmember Jan Perry, Geraldine Washington (L.A.-NAACP), Ayuko Babu (Pan-African Film Festival), Larry Aubry (L.A. Sentinel columnist), Dr. Owen Knox (retired LAUSD educator) and Queen Nzinga (Rivers Run Deep Institute).
They prioritized the recent surge of school “race” fighting, fueled by a mass circulated email rumoring that, because of a drug theft, the Mexican Mafia gang ordered Latinos to begin killing 400 white t-shirted Black children in L.A. on May 5, which marked Cinco de Mayo, the anniversary of Mexico’s victory over the French Army.
According to news reports, the rumor–which was ill-addressed by the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Unified School District and Mayor James Hahn–caused 50,000 Black students to stay home from school.
But Min. Tony quickly announced that communication between the numerous Nation of Islam chapters and the Mexican Mafia in state prisons dispelled the lie that they had put a hit out on Black people.
“In every prison that came back to me, the answer was emphatically no! But I’m concerned that, at the time where there are tensions, we also have a political race where there’s mudslinging going on,” Min. Tony revealed, referring to the current mayoral election between L.A. City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa, a Latino, and Mayor James Hahn, a Caucasian. “I’m hoping that no one is using this to polarize us no more than what we are, using slick innuendos through politics to keep us away from the polls or making the right political decision.”
Congresswoman Diane Watson is calling for a federal investigation into the source of the email, which she said cost the District over $600,000 of average daily attendance funds, and deprived Black students of a day of education.
Greg Akili, the Roundtable’s moderator, refuted notions that Blacks are pandering to urban myths and said that 1,000 Black students at warring Jefferson High School stayed home on Cinco de Mayo, where the population is 2,500 students.
“The difference between an urban myth is that people talk about it and laugh. The difference between this is that people could get hurt,” Mr. Akili stated.
To be young, gifted
and not dead
The Mother’s Day commemorations continued through the evening as over 200 parents of loved ones incarcerated statewide by the California Youth Authority (CYA), juvenile halls and county jails, rallied and marched from Norwalk Park to the CYA Norwalk Reception Center, demanding its shutdown due to racial inequity, ineffectiveness and abuse.
The San Diego Youth Organizing Communities, Escuelas Si Pintas No–Books Not Bars–(ESINO) and the L.A. Youth Justice Coalition (YJC), coordinated the rally to raise concerns about “horrific” CYA conditions and abuse, which they charge led to the 2004 deaths of four youth within the system.
“What happened today was really incredible. People from all over came to support us in this shutdown, and the reasons are obvious. If they can’t even keep the youth alive, they’re good for nothing,” stated Froggy of the YJC, a youth-led movement of children of incarcerated parents or siblings, which challenges race and class inequality within L.A. County’s juvenile system.
“The most beautiful thing that happened today is that, with all the so-called racial tensions going on in L.A., you had Black, Brown, White Arabs, Asian Pacifics, everybody here for a common cause,” shared YJC’s Frank Alvarez.
The YJC indicates that over 15,000 youth ages 18-24 are incarcerated in county jails, and the numbers increase as racial tensions among Black and Latino youth increase.
Mr. Alvarez charges that a hidden hand is plaguing L.A.’s youth. “We have a White mayor and a Brown candidate,” he said, asking who benefits from the tensions between the Black and Brown communities. “We’re both at the bottom, fighting for the scraps, so we need to unite because that’s the only way to overcome all this oppression,” he insisted.