Bring back the Black Panthers to provide sorely needed community aid
Now, before anybody gets upset, talking about "Why do we need angry Black men shooting at police?", consider what The Panthers fundamentally were about, something long overlooked. Now, before anybody gets upset, talking about "Why do we need angry Black men shooting at police?", consider what The Panthers fundamentally were about, something long overlooked. Their notoriety for squaring off against armed oppression of African American communities is only part of the picture. The Black Panther Party most often was about offering free breakfasts for children, free medical clinics, helping the homeless and otherwise providing sorely needed aid to the community.
In that spirit, there is a desperate need they can fulfill, now, in Minneapolis. And, while it involves a call to arms against ruthless, ongoing oppression, it does not involve aiming guns at police. Instead, The Panthers can, indeed, help the Minneapolis Police Department protect our neighborhoods from the rampant gang violence that keeps killing off decent folk - in particular our young. Twelve-year old Vernice Hall, shot in the head and, as of this writing, still clinging to life in a hospital bed, is but the latest of far too many kids who've been cut down by gunfire. And her shooting chillingly parallels the murder earlier this year, on June 9th, of 14-year old Charez Jones. Both young girls were minding their own business, merely leaving a party and headed not very far on their way home. Added to which, shooters and victims alike keep getting younger and younger. Granted, the MPD has made arrests. However, people are still scared to death in their own homes and afraid to let their children out - and, for that matter, go anywhere themselves - without wondering if they'll get back safe and sound.
The fact is the MPD clearly, even with its best detective work and strongest uniformed presence can't do the job by itself. One obstacle the police keep running into is that community residents frequently aren't willing to cooperate with the cops. Either they have a wrongheaded conviction against snitching or they have a right-thinking reluctance to be targeted for retaliation by gang-members. It stands to reason that such intelligence can be much more easily gathered by Panthers who live in the community. For that matter, since they, in fact, live there, they're apt to have first-hand information that police officers (who generally live far away from the endangered communities) would have no way of accessing.
Police Chief Tim Dolan and Mayor R. T. Rybak should welcome such help from The Panthers with open arms - provided that help is presented in a responsible fashion. Along the same lines by which there are classes for people who wish to legally carry concealed weapons, there is no reason Panthers can't undergo whatever training by which authorities deem police fit to carry and discharge loaded firearms, subject to appropriate review after the fact.
On Friday the 22nd, on the day of Charez Jones' wake, C. J. Jessup, K.G. Wilson and Ed Northington, members of community activists MAD DADS chased an armed thug who just finished firing a weapon at a store clerk. They weren't hurt. The thug was subdued. What if, however, had he turned around, during the chase, and tried to gun them all down? The best they would have been able to do is duck. The worst that would've happened is that he'd have wounded or killed one, two or all three of them. Had these been Black Panthers in pursuit, he'd have been facing armed men acting within the law to protect their community from criminals like him.
This suggestion may seem extreme. However, as things increasingly go bad to worse, no solution to this problem can be dismissed out of hand. And, anyone who has reasoned out a more viable option, please, speak right up and make yourself clearly heard.