published Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Stop the shootings, mend Chattanooga

Anyone even slightly observant in Chattanooga knows we have a race, class and trust problem.

We really are two cities — the Chattanooga we aspire to be, and the Chattanooga so divided by race and poverty that the boundaries are even geographical.

This year in particular has been marked by that division with a brutal police beating of a black halfway house prisoner by white officers and by well over 100 shootings (300 since 2011). Most of the shootings have been in urban neighborhoods and involve black shooters and black victims.

In today’s newspaper, a special section, “Speak No Evil,” examines some local shootings and the urban community’s sense that many are retaliatory — an enforcement of the community’s own justice system imposed because many people there don’t trust police.

The stories, told by Joan Garrett McClane and Todd South, show the struggle of a mother to get justice for her son in a community where “snitches get stitches, snitches get ditches.” The mother plainly acknowledges that she grew up with a see-no-evil, speak-no-evil ethic. And she taught it to her son.

That ethic, fueled by the widening culture gaps, has repercussions that, in turn, drive the problem: When no one talks, police can’t bring cases, and no cases mean no justice — except for more retaliatory, vengeful, vigilante-like crimes that will, once more, have plenty of witnesses who won’t speak up.

In sheer numbers, the problem looks like this: In 1991, a record murder year, 49 homicides were tallied in Chattanooga, but 93 percent of the cases were cleared by police. Now police say 58 percent of open Chattanooga homicide and shooting investigations are at dead ends because of witness silence.

Clearly this is a problem spiraling out of control, but Chattanooga has been studying cities where authorities have successfully broken the pattern.

Mayor Andy Berke, police Chief Bobby Dodd and local federal and state prosecutors plan to use one of the success formulas. It is a focused deterrence program sometimes called the “High Point solution,” but it is best described as part intervention, part redemption and part tough enforcement.

Here’s how it has worked in High Point, N.C.: After a “worst-of-the-worst” arrest roundup, a new crop of violent suspects is “called in.” The come-to-Jesus meeting often begins with a pastor offering help — groceries, job training — in exchange for listening and straightening up. Then police lay out a bit of evidence, such as: Jim runs with John, and here’s what we know you did. Police promise to keep watching, and they make a pledge: You touch one bullet, one gun, make one misstep, and it will cost years of federal jail time.

High Point started its effort more than 15 years ago. Since then, the town of 100,000, has seen its annual murder tally drop from 20 to 2. Police, called pigs in 1997, now are called fair. Nine out of 10 felons warned with an intervention don’t get in trouble again.

High Point, which borrowed its initiative from Boston, isn’t the only success story. Youth homicides fell 63 percent in Boston after Harvard University researchers crunched police data and found that the violence problem there could be traced back to 1,300 serial offenders — less than 1 percent of youth citywide, but a group that was responsible for at least 60 percent of youth homicides.

When the program was implemented in Cincinnati, gang-related homicides fell 41 percent.

Chattanooga needs a similar turn-around, and Mayor Berke has put money and work on a problem that largely has just gotten lip-service from past administrations. Berke has even allocated money for the services of a special federal prosecutor.

Berke says he knows the effort must be a sustained one. One or two roundups will make a dent, but replacement criminals will bloom and flourish if concentrated surveillance wanes. That is what has happened here already to get us where we are today — reading too many headlines about too many shootings.

We have to do this and keep doing it, Berke says. And he’s right. Along the way, we’ll have the opportunity to knit our two Chattanoogas into one.

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
aae1049 said...

No homicide is good, and there are clearly youth in crisis due to the socioeconomics of poverty. Isn't it interesting that the crime map also follows the poverty map.

Create job opportunity for people, and the crime will reduce.

Silly Dems, the Chamber of Commerce probably did not want the TFP to discuss how extraordinarily poor Chattanooga really is, so you focused on a code of silence amongst the community. That is not good for Chattanoooga.

December 15, 2013 at 10:02 a.m.
jjmez said...

The come-to-Jesus meeting often begins with a pastor

That's sick. Bringing in people struggling with their own demons to advise people struggling with theirs?

December 15, 2013 at 12:31 p.m.
soakya said...

aae1049, two things politicians don't like are stats and facts, they prefer projections.

Cleveland ranks as the 70th most dangerous city in America to live in based on violent crimes per 1000 residents and Mayor Rowland recently said “It’s a great place to raise a family — low crime,”

Read more: Cleveland Daily Banner - Cleveland jumps to 25th place In Best Performing Small Cities listing

December 15, 2013 at 1:45 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Wow Soakya, I was not aware that the city Cleveland out ranks Chattanooga on violent crime on a per capita basis. Learn something new every day. The city of Cleveland poverty is more concentrated per land area, as well. The poverty map from census clearly shows this when you compare Chattanooga to Cleveland on an area basis. Poverty is the driver, but Shhh! TFP is a PR arm of the Chamber of Commerce.

December 15, 2013 at 1:53 p.m.
soakya said...

aae1049, quite its a secret.

December 15, 2013 at 2:29 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Ok, shhhh!

December 15, 2013 at 2:38 p.m.
conservative said...

I have noticed for over 25 years the black folks not cooperating with police investigations in all cities in this country that have a high percentage of black people. I doubt this writer is aware of that.

The gangs are close knit whose members have no father at home and many don't even know who their father is.

The Liberals just throw more money at them to gain their allegiance.

Liberals are the bane of the black community.

December 15, 2013 at 5:53 p.m.
schizka said...

Could blacks mistrust of law enforcement have anything to do with the history of police brutalizing them? It's like telling the molested child they should now trust the person or people who molested them without taking proper steps and measures to assure they won't be victimized all over again? Will we ever learn, know or want to learn and know what police have gone into many of these communities and committed against the people? And what would be done with that revelation once it came to light?

The incident caught on tape at the Salvation Army were neither rare, unique or unusual to many citizens in the black community. Such encounters with police has become the norm for many. Expected even. It's like the abused child or spouse who come to expect to get beaten or punch by an abusive parent or spouse, and there's no escaping it. No one should feel be made to feel a sense of dread when they see a police car in their rearview mirror. They should feel a sense of relief. Unfortunately, that has not been the case in the black community. And now, white middle-classed America is beginning to experience and know what the black and brown communities have been saying all along.

That "allegiance" is also very much a part of law enforcement itself. Just ask what happens to a fellow cop who tries to "snitch" out a bad cop.

December 15, 2013 at 7:57 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Conservative, that "allegiance" you mention is a well known fact in city politics, and is a tie breaker in many elections.

December 15, 2013 at 8:10 p.m.
AgentX said...

Here's an idea: if everyone would follow the law, then what's the problem? If my child misbehaves, I punish him. Depending on what he does determines the severity of the punishment. Yes, sometimes he gets a spanking. He goes through stages where he wants to test the limits, to see what he can get away with before I really get on to him. Could this not also be the case with some of the offenders? They continue to break the law because they get away with it. People are scared they would be targeted as the next victim if they speak up, so they keep quiet, hoping to stay "below the radar".
Sometimes it takes more than a stern look and threatening voice to get people to start acting right. Sometimes you have to take off your belt and do what's needed. And I see a trend, regardless of race. White, black, it doesn't matter. I think the black community has more violence because of the concentration of people in the "projects". Families on government assistance raise children that will more than likely become dependent in the same way. That has more to do with a persons family up-bringing. A child has opportunity, but parents in those situations seldom encourage it.

December 16, 2013 at 8:47 a.m.
jaredstory said...

Concerned Citizens for Justice Statement on "Speak No Evil" Series and Forum and the Chattanooga Violence Reduction Initiative:

December 19, 2013 at 9:47 a.m.
FreedomJournal said...

Apathy & Ignorance The Attempted Destruction of Black History (16 December 2013)

Beloved we are for certain that Black intellectuals especially the Social Scientists have a great responsibility toward the refutation of Apathy and Ignorance in the Black community. One such challenge to Black America is the growing Apathy regarding the historical record of Blacks in America.

Independent and Free Thinkers note that the academic community especially those that are historians should create an atmosphere whereby Black students will gravitate toward Black American History. We also declare that all students as all that liveth will benefit from a basic understanding of the historical impact of the people taken from Africa (west and east) and enslaved during the Slave Trade.

No doubt the economic system produced and promoted by the slave trade impacted on the entire world. Therefore the historical record of Blacks in America and throughout the Diaspora is very important toward understanding the historical record of all human beings on earth.

However, those that don’t realize this clear and succinct argument should think on these things. There is very little progress in the academic environment without the sustained move from rote memory to the essence of critical thinking.

Cont. Part II

December 30, 2013 at 4:11 p.m.
FreedomJournal said...

Greetings Brethren,

Peace be unto you. I wonder what Carter G. Woodson would say about the failure of any historic Black College or University excluding Black History as a discipline of study?

I am also amazed that Tennessee State University believes that the historical record of Black people is no longer important. Are these people Black? Well are they the alleged African Americans who have made sustained attempts to destroy Black History overtime and purge Independent Free Thinkers who are not apologists for many of the rogues and scoundrels in the Black community.

Is this normal behavior? However, I have not a bowed down head but if W.E.B. DuBois or Carter G. Woodson woke up from their sleep who would be ashamed to tell them of the dreadful state of Black intellectuals disdain for their own history. This reminds me of a discourse I penned many years ago on “Blacks and Abnormal Behavior.” But before I leave this point just what is cultural genocide? Black American culture is not the same as African or European culture.

I imagine that the infamous Tennessee State University also does not observe Black American History month in February? Negro History Week became Black History month and then those that distort and exclude the essence of the true record of Black American History claimed that February is now African American History month. Should we study Black American History in the United States throughout the year? Do most Black folk realize why Blacks moved from the invention of the Negro to Black?

I wonder if the people of Africa had a month in which they observed the history of Black folk in America would they call it African American History? If so would they mean the Blacks born in America that have enslaved ancestors or the Africans that have come to America and gained citizenship?

Cont. Part III

December 30, 2013 at 4:13 p.m.
FreedomJournal said...

Self Destruction In Ignorance

There seems to be a very simple reason for any human being to want to know where he came from. Where John came from also reveals his roots, his home and family.

Freedom, Truth and John knew that the historical record of Blacks in America, the advent of slavery and economics and race impacted upon the entire world.

Thus Western Civilization flourished, prospered and became rich due to the economic system produced by the enslavement of people from “The Land of the Blacks.”

Logically then an understanding of many of these factors allows one to grapple with comprehending the aftermath of the slave system. The fight for citizenship, the vote and basic freedoms as human beings all resulted,

From the economics of race. Thus we bear witness to the fact that the history of America with Blacks as the centerpiece has also rendered an on-going time of no education and mis-education.

But mis-education has reached another dreadful level whereby the victims become genocidal and reject information and knowledge that will set them free. Meanwhile some civil rights activists thrive within the Straw Boss realm of Black leadership.

The sordid, dirty and soiled essence of the Straw Boss cast its evil mark in the precedents established by Booker T. Washington. Organizations that do much for rights that are civil remain in control of all things social as economics that started this whole,

Thing are only of prominent concern for the White and Jewish liberals. Old folk tricked should know better but in the youth is where we have the greatest tragedy. Apathy has slipped in like vultures the scavengers that descend upon the dead carcasses of road/man kill.

Apathy thus breeds ignorance as the don’t give a damn attitude causes a master lock on stupid. But in the midst some of our youth really want to know. Some also confess that we know we have been told lie after lie.

So much so that Apathy tells them that it is useless as so-called Black intellectuals wander and roam confused with visions of being African Americans. But what kind of community Black would allow a historic Black University to denounce Black Studies?

Is Athletics or football more important? Is playing football in “The Hole” more important than educating all students at Tennessee State University regarding the Truth of the Black Experience? Evidently not because all of the Black elite the power brokers have just went with the flow.

What do you expect? The Truth of the Black Experience exposes those that attempt to destroy Black History but we remind you it is impossible to destroy or hide Truth. Just what will 2014 bring to the Table of Truth?

Peace and Sweet Paradise, Carl A. Patton writing for the FreedomJournal Press 30 December 2013 in the year of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.

December 30, 2013 at 4:15 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.