- Community outraged and mourning after police kill 7 year old girl (FCN, 05-26-2010)
- Teen remembered at funeral service (FCN, 05-26-2010)
(FinalCall.com) – Two families are grieving now in Detroit. One, the family of a seven-year-old killed when police raided her home as she slept on a couch. The other family mourns the loss of a 17-year-old, whose killer police say they were seeking when entering the home of the little girl described by her father as his first Black Disney princess.
There is enough pain and anguish to go around in this bitter equation and there is much owning up that needs to be done: When a teenager can be shot to death for simply looking the wrong way at someone, which is reportedly what happened to Je’Rean Blake Nobles and police feel justified in apparently raiding the wrong home in search of a murder suspect, these are signs of how troubled Black America is for this is bigger than these two heartfelt deaths in the Motor City.
In neighborhoods across the country, north to south and east to west, family members will experience similar bitter pain over loved ones lost to senseless violence in a society that loves to retell the myth of the gun and its role as a great equalizer and peacemaker. But statistics show that guns are a leading cause of death in America and Blacks are too often the victims of readily available weapons, often dumped one way or another into our neighborhoods.
But beyond the weapons is a mindset that sees power in a gun and hatred of self when one looks in a mirror. How else could you explain the wanton slaughter of Black men and women by Black men and women? We are the product of a violent society that hates our very shadow and has always hated us, mis-portrayed us, miseducated us and misused us. Understanding the reality of America and the American psyche, we should understand that our former oppressors are not coming to save us. Why should they? Slavery was big business yesterday and the warehousing of Black bodies usually for crimes against other Black bodies fuel the prison industrial complex today.
A life saving and life giving message was first offered in Detroit as the founder of the Nation of Islam started a movement in the 1930s to save the Black man and woman of America from their oppressors and from the sins of the oppressors that Blacks had adopted. That message worked yesterday and works today and Muslims must continue to actively work for the deliverance of a lost people. We are needed more now than ever.
Death is so widespread that Black funeral home owners bemoan their booming business and have themselves pleaded for an end to the violence. Grandmothers and grandfathers, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons are making daily treks to cemeteries and trying to find the strength to carry on as they consider lives lost much too soon and warm embraces never to be felt again.
Pain has made emotions raw in Detroit and we urge leadership to handle this volatile situation in the best manner. An example of what not to do can be found in the response of Michigan attorney general Mike Cox, who callously called the Rev. Al Sharpton’s speaking at the funeral of seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, a move by an outsider to capitalize on a death. It appears as if Mr. Cox, a candidate for governor, is trying to make an appeal to voters by “being anti-Black and anti-Detroit” as the Michigan head of the National Action Network noted.
Such comments have no place in an atmosphere where there is anger, resentment and a growing feeling that enough is enough when it comes to police conduct or misconduct in the Black community. Violence levels open the door to police abuses but do not excuse law enforcement from carrying out their duty, which is to preserve and protect life and property. Officers are to carry out their duties without regard for the race, class or sex of the parties involved but Blacks seem to be exempt from proper policing and respect for life.
An attorney for Aiyana’s family says police fired into her home from outside, contradicting an early police account of a struggle between the young girl’s grandmother and an officer. There is a huge question about why a so-called stun grenade was tossed through a window into the apartment and whether the presence of a camera crew filming a reality TV show may have encouraged the SWAT team to use the device for a more dramatic effect.
A family member says he told police there were children in the home before the raid and the family attorney says the officers obtained a search warrant for Aiyana’s home after a fatally bungled raid at the wrong apartment. If the evidence shows the police were wrong, the city and the police department should do all in their power to mete out appropriate punishment, make amends and pay proper restitution.
We call on political leaders to avoid pitting two suffering families against one another by somehow saying one death is responsible for the other, or the death of one Black child is more important than the other. Both lives were valuable and both deaths were losses to these families and the Black community. These young people will never have the chance to grow to their highest God-given potential.
Political leadership and officials in the police department and throughout the city should consider what is best for the city, which includes holding any officers found guilty of wrongdoing accountable and trying to forge a true partnership with neighborhoods to root out crime and violence. The killer of the 17-year-old should also be brought to justice.
Black people in Detroit and elsewhere don’t want to be victimized but too often victimization comes first at the hands of lawbreakers and secondly at the hands of law enforcement. Every time law enforcement fails and errant officers go unpunished, it is another reason to distrust police.
Detroit needs leadership that can be an example for the nation of how to handle and overcome such tragedy. If the city, her leaders and people can find the way to properly handle this episode, perhaps others will learn lessons needed to prevent future loss of life–Je’Rean Blake Nobles and Aiyana Stanley-Jones deserve nothing less.