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Enough is Enough: All of Louisville Must Come Out Against Violence

A group of teenagers attack customers and clerks at Bader’s Food Mart in downtown Louisville, around 70-80 took part in an attack that was part of a larger set of disturbances that involved an estimated 200 individuals. Courtesy of Bader’s Food Mart.

A group of teenagers attack customers and clerks at Bader’s Food Mart in downtown Louisville, around 70-80 took part in an attack that was part of a larger set of disturbances that involved an estimated 200 individuals. Courtesy of Bader’s Food Mart.

By MARK GUNN
Your Voice Contributor

As a black man living in Louisville, I’m way past tired of the face of crime being young and black. Nerves are still raw and emotions are running high in light of the disgraceful actions of a roaming group of teenagers in downtown Louisville this past weekend. What’s even more disgraceful is the seemingly tepid response from city leaders. It’s not enough to say, “You know that’s not how you’re supposed to act.” There has to be concrete action in order to keep this from happening again.

A 61-year-old grandfather was among those injured, and he’s becoming the symbol of community anger. When this happened a couple of years ago and a mentally challenged man was one of the victims, the overall reaction was one of helplessness. These days? Not so much. Just check out the conversations on any social media website. “Oh my Gosh! What will we do?” has been replaced by “I’m taking my gun with me if I go downtown.” Given today’s gun-happy climate and some feeling emboldened to “stand your ground” as a result of the George Zimmerman trial, does the city really want to take the chance of someone with a concealed carry permit taking the law into their own hands?

Mark Gunn.

Mark Gunn.

Perception is reality, and the reality being seen by some Louisvillians is that the city is trying to downplay this incident and others like it because of the potential harm to revenue. If people don’t feel safe, that money’s gone – period.

Another part of that perception is a fear of coming down too harshly on these “poor black children” because of the possible racial implications.

Let’s face it: Louisville has always had a racial problem, and if arresting, prosecuting and then jailing those guilty of these assaults causes a bit of discomfort, so be it. It’s past time that we had an honest conversation on race.

There are those that will be apologists for these criminals. And they are criminals. (See the definition of the word “crime”). There are those who, while not justifying it, will cite growing up in the wrong kind of environment and seeing only the worst that life has to offer. Violence in their own neighborhoods on almost a daily basis, substandard housing, education, lack of jobs, etc. – all of the societal ills that plague portions of Black America. All of this leads to a need to unleash pent-up anger, and you see the end result: innocent people hurt and property damaged.

In the Mayor’s effort to make Louisville a more “Compassionate City,” incidents like this only serve to harden the hearts of those who once might have given a damn about the plight of their black brothers and sisters and reinforce stereotypes long held by those that never cared about us in the first place. When little kids are traumatized by heinous acts like this, I can’t say that I blame them. There’s a reasonable expectation of being able to safely take your family to a city-owned park – or anywhere, for that matter.

On the other side of the “Compassionate City” coin, there must be more of an effort to improve the standard of living in the impoverished areas of Louisville. Rebuilding old housing projects and bringing a Wal-Mart to the neighborhood don’t quite cut it. Where are the jobs? Where is the investment that will help these teens become positive contributors to the Louisville economy and not contributors to a profit margin for privately-owned prisons?

The black community shoulders the majority of blame in this. This will not endear me to my brothers and sisters, but the truth is the truth. To the parents of the teens involved: where were you? How is it that troublemakers have more influence over your kids than you do? Other than Christopher 2X, why haven’t we heard from any of you? What will it take before you stand up and speak out? Because when one your “good boys” ends up with a bullet in his chest for assaulting the wrong person, the cries over your dead child will largely go ignored. How’s that for a “Compassionate City”?

The majority of our kids don’t get into this kind of trouble. However, it’s the actions of a few that make us all look bad. There are so many grassroots organizations trying to help, but some of you aren’t doing what you need to do to make it work.

It’s bad enough that black kids are already seen as being older than they really are. But will you or your child be prepared for the grown-folks consequences when he or she steps to someone, trying to be grown? Your child’s future is in your hands, and if you don’t care enough to move them in right direction, don’t expect the rest of us to, either.

Louisville has the potential to become a truly great city. We have a lot going for us. However, we have the same problems that most major cities have when it comes to its citizens of color. A severe case of neglect and lack of economic opportunity. The other problem is that some of our citizens of color are blowing the few opportunities out there out of a misguided sense of loyalty to those that bring only negativity to the very neighborhoods in which they live.

Somehow, there has to be a meeting of the minds that says that Louisvillians regardless of race or economic status agree that a zero-tolerance mindset must be shared by everyone. We must stand together as Louisvillians against those that would bring harm to anyone in our city. A pipe dream, I know. It’s ironic that we can all get along when it comes to cheering the Cards or the Cats, but we can’t seem to get it together for the overall good of our city. Compassionate City?

Louisville, you tell me.

Mark Gunn is a 35-year radio and television broadcast veteran and owner & president of Mark Gunn Media Inc., a multimedia marketing company specializing in voice-over, photography, public relations, strategic marketing and more. Find out more at www.MarkGunnMedia.com.

13 Responses to “Enough is Enough: All of Louisville Must Come Out Against Violence”

  1. Kimberly moore

    I totally agree being a black woman I am so sick of excuses for our behavior!!! The only reason people are talking is because they do NOT want to lose money!!!

  2. Mark Evans

    Mark,

    Nice article. Most of us outside the black community realize this is coming from a subset of the black community and I think it is fair to say that most the anger is directed specifically to the thugs, their parents, the mayor, the police, and some apologists. If the police don’t crack down, then armed citizens will and then everybody loses. Good luck.

  3. Bev

    Extremely well said! Accountability has to begin with those accountable and not sloughed off as really not all that bad! So sad to punish a whole city because of kids trying to act grown with no direction. Please tell it like it is; invoke some serious consequences for those involved and do not run my favorite city! I WILL enjoy the pedestrian bridge and waterfront my next visit and hope others DEMAND the same from those in charge to step up whatever it takes to allow folks to tour without incidents. Thank you Mr Gunn for the comments. I hope the folks in charge of the city are listening!

  4. Concerned Louisvilian

    Enough is enough, my daughter’s grade school field trip was cancelled due to this issue. Maybe the Mayor should focus more of his efforts here instead of declaring Louisville “Red” day and alienating nearly half the city in the process.

  5. Mary Jo Wehrley

    Well said. As a teacher at an inner city school for 20 years I have seen the decline in parental involvement. On the other hand many of my students’ families are involved and do want their children to succeed. I hate for the actions of a few to hurt others.

  6. Chris Nelson

    I agree with the majority of this article, however what is missing is realistic, pragmatic solutions. How do we create more jobs? How do we manifest this “meeting of the minds”? It’s easy to say what we need in abstract terms. It’s hard to make it actually happen.

    • Mark Gunn

      Chris,

      One of the solutions I offered was presented to LMPD Chief, Steve Conrad during a meeting I was a part of a year or so ago. As it relates to increased safety in the West End, I suggested a partnership between the police, The Nation Of Islam and if they altered their mindset a little, the New Black Panther Party.

      The goal is to see scores of Black men walking the streets with police officers and confronting suspicious behavior. Let the brothers do the talking with the police as back-up should anything go wrong. The goal is drive out those activities that continue to make the West End a bad economic investment.

      The other part of the solution is for Louisville’s Corporate Community to get involved. If not by building businesses, then by investing in those community centers and agencies designed to help people get a leg up. Incentivize them with tax breaks. That’s a start.

  7. Charlene Brown

    I am so glad that someone is speaking what needs to be said and in such a clear and convincing way. I also think that when we excuse and apologize to kids for their misbehavior we are in effect sending them a message that in the end causes them to commit worse crimes and end up with a conviction that follows them forever, limiting severely their ability to ever rise above. Allowing kids to destroy others and themselves because we are afraid to address the problem for fear of being called racist is a great injustice to everyone.