Sunday, February 21, 2016

No more marches or candlelight vigils, please. We need a leader.

King Carter.

His name was King Carter. He was 6 years old, a first-grader at Van E. Blanton Elementary School.

The little boy who wanted to be a police officer when he grew up, was killed Saturday afternoon while playing outside with friends at his Northwest Miami-Dade apartment complex.

Let that sink in. Read those three heart-wrenching sentences again from this morning's paper, if you have to.

Now, read this sentence from a Dec 27, 2015 Miami Herald story: "Through November this year, 30 children and teenagers have been killed by gunfire in Miami-Dade County and more than twice that many have been shot."

Yes, it's happened again...another child has been shot and killed.

And the community's response?

From this morning's Miami Herald story: "anti-violence activist Tangela Sears, whose own son was fatally shot, is organizing a march at the complex Sunday at 2 p.m."

I'm sorry, Ms. Sears, but we don't need another goddamned march or candlelight vigil. Or any more speeches, editorials, hand holding or prayer meetings.

It's been almost 10 years since 9-year-old Sherdavia Jenkins was caught in a crossfire and shot dead.

At an event held two years ago to mark her death, they read the names of children who were homicide victims in Miami-Dade County during Jenkins’ short life.  There were 108 names on the list.

The 10th anniversary of her death is a few months away...but nothing has changed. Kids are still dying.

So, no more marches, please. What the community needs is a leader.

After Hurricane Andrew devastated much of South Dade in 1992, one man stepped up and took charge.

From a December 2008 Miami Herald story
Alvah Chapman.
[Alvah] Chapman's influence was certified soon after Hurricane Andrew, when he answered a phone call from President George H.W. Bush, who urged Chapman to assemble a citizens' task force that would help direct recovery efforts.

Already retired — although engrossed in crusades against drugs, crime and homelessness — Chapman reluctantly agreed.

"I thought it would be good if somebody else led the effort," he confided in a rare interview. "This town shouldn't be dependent on someone who is retired."

He insisted on learning firsthand how the storm had disrupted lives. One day, driving through a predominantly black area, he saw an elderly woman on the porch of her wrecked home.

Chapman introduced himself to Dollie Buxton. Soon a small crowd of Buxton's neighbors came to share their Andrew horror stories.

This ramrod straight, vastly wealthy, unmistakably Southern gentleman listened intently. Finally he asked: "What are you going to do?"

"We're going to rebuild," Buxton said.

"Maybe we can help," Chapman replied.

From that conversation came Chapman's name for the task force: We Will Rebuild.

Alvah Chapman is no longer with us.

So who's going to step forward this time and fix things? Alberto Carvalho? Alonzo Mourning? Carlos Gimenez? Michael Putney? Luther Campbell? Delrish Moss? Mike Grieco? Xavier Suarez? Philip Levine?

Someone needs to step up and organize something along the lines of 1992's "We Will Rebuild" effort.

Who wants to step forward and build a coalition of leaders, law enforcement heads and business people who maybe, just maybe, can come up with some solutions?

Any takers?

How many more kids have to die before someone gets off their ass and decides that enough is enough?

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