Recent events made for an all-too-real backdrop as a National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention unfolded at the Board of Education on Tuesday (Sept. 9).
Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell Jr. hosted the forum along with District Attorney General Amy Weirich and Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong. Also in attendance were representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, standing in solidarity with Memphis’ efforts to prevent youth violence.
There’s a harrowing moment in Mike Tyson’s one-man stage play, MikeTyson: Undisputed Truth, where he describes how he was accused, tried and eventually convicted of raping 18-year-old Desiree Washington in 1992. He talks—sensitively—about how he wasn’t the first person Washington had accused of rape and how his agent at the time, Don King, hired a tax attorney to defend him instead of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
At the end of his fast-paced soliloquy, Tyson’s high-pitched voice cuts to a halting stop, he plants himself in the center of the stage, looks solemnly into the audience, and says: “I did not rape Desiree Washington and that’s all I have to say about this.”
There’s no shortage of calls for racial healing or proposals for community initiatives in slowly back-to-normal Ferguson, Mo. But as the dust settles and the tear gas cannisters pile up in recycle bins, a malignant return to that special brand of Ferguson status quo may be what’s really happening.
After everything that’s happened over the last month—despite management malfeasance on an epic scale—the same city-government officials who were around when Michael Brown was shot on Aug. 9 show no plans of going anywhere anytime soon. They lay comfortably low: a very solid and nearly all-white (save one) political power bloc running a city that’s just under 70 percent African American.
(Politico) – Civil rights leaders and community activists cheered when Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced on Thursday that the Justice Department would be investigating the Ferguson Police Department for possible civil rights violations—a move prompted by the August 9 shooting death of an African-American teen at the hands of one of the St. Louis suburb’s white police officers.
The reaction is understandable. The Justice Department’s civil rights division—which is investigating whether Ferguson’s police force engaged in a pattern and practice of abuses—has for decades been instrumental in pursuing justice in matters and places where local action would have been unlikely. Think voting rights and desegregation in the Deep South of the 1960s.