Bankole: Detroit’s dying babies deserve outrage

Bankole Thompson
The Detroit News

The recent fatal shootings of two black men by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, have added two more chapters to the long-running painful episodes involving the black community and the police.

News of both shootings went viral with horrific video that have sparked national outrage at the treatment of these men by the attending police officers. The shootings are as condemnable as the killing of the five police officers in Dallas who were gunned down in the line of duty during a protest against police brutality.

Baton Rouge and St. Paul will now be added to the long list of cities where police encounters with black men have been fatal.

But regardless of where the crime of gun violence takes place we should apply the same zest and energy when the accused is not a police officer as well. We should not only raise our fists and put out a swift call to action when law enforcement is involved. We should do the same when the alleged culprit is from our own communities.

We should demonstrate to the world that we are taking back our communities from those who want to make our streets killing fields.

What is disturbing is that very little if any outrage has been shown when children are lost to gun violence.

Why haven’t we moved to stop the senseless murders against young, innocent black victims of gun violence in Detroit?

When Chanel Berry, 7, died in a shootout last December there was almost a deafening silence on her brutal demise.

The March killing of Aniaya Montgomery, 3, during an Easter Sunday shooting got no serious and concerted community response.

Makanzee Oldham was 2 when she was shot in the head in May while in a car with her father. She died later in the hospital becoming the innocent victim of a dispute she knew nothing about.

And when 2-year-old Zanyrah Taylor took a bullet while sitting on her grandmother’s lap in a car during a July 4 weekend festivities, there was no outcry.

Why aren’t we outraged as we watch the future of this city being taken away from us?

These lives are as important as the lives being taken by some cops who probably have no business in law enforcement.

Every incident of gun violence deserves outrage no matter where it happens and who pulls the trigger. We should not select what crimes we want to spotlight.

When our children as young as 2, 3, 4 and 7 years old don’t feel safe in this city then we are all under siege.

There should be no difference in the application of our outrage toward the siege we are under. No death is greater than the other. Detroit shouldn’t become so synonymous with gun violence that we do not take notice any longer. Our conspicuous silence in the face of these gruesome attacks against little children is totally unacceptable.

Facebook has been bombarded with alerts and calls to action based on what happened in Baton Rouge and Minnesota. I get it. There is legitimate discontent about police officers who act like they are in a hunting season against black men. It’s documented in our history, the ugly nature of racist policing and overbearing law enforcement that blacks and other people of color have long been subjected to.While that remains an issue to tackle, we in the black community should confront our own blind spots too. We cannot turn a blind eye to the gun violence in our communities that is robbing us of our precious babies.

James Weldon Johnson, the author of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the black national anthem, understood the value of nurturing young lives as he wrote in the “The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man.”

“You are young, gifted, and black. We must begin to tell our young, there’s a world waiting for you. Yours is the quest that’s just begun,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s statement is true if we finally stand up to save our children from getting killed because there’s a world waiting for them to soar.

Make no mistake, black lives should matter in our encounter with police. It should matter as well when blacks are gunning down each other in our neighborhoods. And the time to act is now. Because the next child to take a bullet in Detroit could be your own.

Bankole Thompson is the host of “Redline with Bankole Thompson” on Super Station 910 AM Wednesdays and Fridays. His column appears Mondays and Thursdays.