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by Peter Moskos

February 28, 2012

"We have to be enraged at this point"

So says, again and again, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.

I'm rarely shocked by murders. Nine-month-old shot and killed by a "stray" bullet? 12-year-old girl killed in similar (but separate) circumstances? 6-year-old critically injured after being shot by a 15-year-old with an AK47 in an attempted carjacking? (OK, that last one did make me do a bit of a double take).

Horribly, it's just the same-old same-old. The rest of American A) doesn't care and/or B) can't figure out what to do.

But a 14-year-old (who was on the high-school swim team and in ROTC) killing his mom for not letting him hang out with losers? I'm actually shocked. From the same Detroit News:
Tamiko Robinson, 36, who was fatally shot -- relatives say by her teenage son -- as she was sleeping about 3 a.m. Monday.

Family members say Robinson's 14-year-old son, who is in custody, shot his mother because he was mad she wouldn't let him hang out with friends.

"He just wanted to hang with the thugs," said Robinson's brother....

"He said his mother won't let him have friends; he said his mother won't let him bring his girlfriends over; his mother won't let him stay out until 11 o'clock at night," Roberts said. "He's 14 years old."

Meanwhile, investigators are trying to determine how two people died after their burning bodies were found early Monday on Detroit's west side.

Here's a Fox TV clip where the victim's brother says what happened.

Mayor Bing said: "What we are living with today is totally unacceptable."

What is the answer?

Update: Meanwhile I see we are enraged. When innocent white boys get killed. National front page headlines. And please don't ask why I had to play the race card. Why do we care so much more when the victims are white? We either care about innocent shooting victims or we don't.

A lot of people (and a lot of cops) say, "well the black community doesn't care about black-on-black crime." Well they do. You just never hear them talk. I mean, have you ever heard of Mayor Bing? I hadn't.

I would mention guns. But what's the point in talking about America's gun culture and the lack of gun control? That battle is lost.

As my favorite penguin says:
Relax. Your paranoid political fantasies notwithstanding, no one's going to take your guns away!

Barring some seismic realignment in this country, the gun control debate is all but settled--and your side won. The occasional horrific civilian massacre is just the price the rest of us have to pay.

Over and over again, apparently.


sparkcheck said...

There was this episode of The Wire where a mayoral hopeful asked two cops what they think the solution was. One of them replied that the whole area should be nuked. Not quite the solution I'd advocate, but sadly, I don't think there is a solution.

PCM said...

How about massive federal investment? And if you do something wrong, you keep investing till you get it right. Just because hi-rise public housing may not have been the answer, doesn't mean there is none.

Such spendy solutions aren't very popular these days. But it seems to work in other countries. And in the long run, it's cheaper than prisons and building new stuff in the suburbs.

Ebenezer Scrooge said...

"Don't have friends" is a very black thing. And probably wise counsel for adolescents of any race.

David said...


Welcome back. Mayor Bing is an interesting guy; native Washingtonian (Springarn HS IIRC), played Basketball at Syracuse and in the NBA for 12-13 years. In the Hall of Fame.

After Basketball went into business in Detroit and was very successful.

Very much an improvement over the previous administration from the Michigan branch of the family.

Can he reverse the course of the last 70 years? I don't know.

Anonymous said...

The perception is that black on black crime isn't news.

No mayor can turn around Detroit. The rustbelt was created by the global economy.

The rest of the country should take a good look: there's your future. Manufactured goods are made by slave labor on this planet.

PCM said...

But are school shootings really news at this point?

I agree that the problems of Detroit are probably too big for any mayor to fix. But that shouldn't mean the city--the geographic area within the city limits--is doomed to complete abandonment. It just takes bigger regional and/or national help.

Anonymous said...

I think political correctness has something to do with this. It is simply not politically correct to say that black communities have bigger crime problems than predominately white ones. For example, if you bring this up to many in academia (even to some at your school), the immediate response is that whites commit just as much if not more crime, but it flies under the radar (e.g. white collar crime) or that almost all serial killers are white, or point to the mafia, etc. From there, the conversation moves directly to how the justice system unfairly targets one group.

Because of this, I really don't believe the average American has any idea of the scope of violence that occurs in certain urban communities throughout the nation.

PCM said...

Good points. Very related to political correctness is the fear of being called a racist (justified or not) because you dared broach the subject and perhaps didn't do it in the right way.

Early in my life, long before I was a police officer, I learned that if you ever deal with racial issues, somebody will always call you a racist. Oh well. I try not to be one, but I'm not willing to be quiet on these issues.

Now excuse me while I go indoctrinate... I mean teach my college students. But some of that indoctrination is how to talk about sensitive issues is ways that are both, well, sensitive (in that they don't needless offend a person or group) and factually correct.

For instance I do talk about "violent crime rates in poor African-American communities." They are higher. No doubt about it. But that's very different than saying, "blacks are more likely to crime," which seems to imply some genetic causal-correlation between race and crime. A student may be trying to say the former and blurt out the latter. I see my job, in part, to help students understand the difference and help them talk about crime.

It's disingenuous -- even morally wrong -- to *not* talk about race in America, especially in the context of police and violent crime.

Anonymous said...

I 100 percent agree. In full disclosure, I actually was a grad student of yours a few years ago and you were one of my favorite professors because of the way you discussed these sensitive topics.

To add to your point, I remember a couple of years back CNN televised a short series about violence in urban communities, and to my dismay the only articles I saw written about the segments were ones debating whether it was racist.

Anonymous said...

We aren't enraged because nobody is surprised anymore to see blacks treating each other in these ways. By simple volume and even more so by percentage, it's seen as commonplace for a black person to murder a black child in the commission of some ridiculous crime with the goal of stealing something. Is this true? I don't know, but it feels true. Ho hum. Maybe the rest of us aren't enraged because if so few blacks themselves are going to be, then why bother? I think after Bill Cosby spoke on this issue, little else needed to be said.

PCM said...

Are you effing serious? "Because Bill Cosby spoke on the issue"? Me thinks a troll.

Or maybe not. But my whole damn point is that blacks *are* enraged (as was Bill Cosby). It's the rest of us that don't seem to give a shit.

As to "ho hum," well, that's my reaction to white suburban school shootings. Maybe that makes me an anti-white racist. I don't know.

You really think a criminal in a black neighborhood gives a damn what race his victim is? He's a low-down criminal. He prays on the weak and innocent, most of whom are black, cause that's where he lives. And most of the residents are pissed off. And many of them also don't have faith that the police can tell the difference between one black and another.

Ebenezer Scrooge said...

As far as I know, criminals in black neighborhoods do care about the race of the victim. Black criminals are a lot more chary of white folk, because a crime against a white person is more likely to draw police interest and prosecutorial wrath.

PCM said...

Good point. But I did see more than one white boy running out of the ghetto with no shoes and pants. I don't they were doing the nude olympics.

Still, if I were walking through an all-black ghetto, I'd take comfort in the fact people would probably think I'm an undercover decoy officer.

I guess what bothers me about talk about crime in black communities (and also why it's not big news) is that it's seen as "their" problem. Frankly, I see suburban school shootings as not my problem. But I still care (despite what I sometimes write).

For what it's worth, I think Bill Cosby made some bold and essential points that in his famous speech (and got a standing ovation, let us not forget). That's not a popular position in liberal academia.

As long as it's an "us" and "them" thing (and there is blame on both sides for that), it's not going to get better. Obviously the good people in "those" neighborhoods don't have the resources or ability to solve the problem. Or else they would. So what are we--all of us--going to do about it?