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Mitchell: People should get angry over gangs killing innocent people

Jonylah Watkins

Jonylah Watkins

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Updated: April 18, 2013 6:52AM



When will black people get as outraged over a gang-banger killing innocent people as they do when a police officer kills an unarmed black man?

After police in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood fatally shot 16-year-old Kimani Gray last week, mobs of teenage protesters went on a rampage, smashing windows and throwing rocks.

“Someone hit an officer in the face with a brick, another brick was thrown through the window of a police van, and there were 46 arrests — mostly for disorderly conduct,” the New York Times reported.

I am not suggesting that people should ever riot.

Young people were so upset by the police shooting; they came together even though gang factions have divided the neighborhood.

At issue are eyewitness reports that claim Kimani did not have a gun, although a gun was found at the scene where two plainclothes police officers shot him seven times.

This is not a Rodney King incident.

One of the officers involved in the shooting is black and the other is Hispanic.

Additionally, according to police, Kimani was a gang member with a criminal background. The dead boy’s mother denied her son had gang ties but admitted her son is “not the public’s angel.”

“[H]e’s my angel,” she said.

Whether Kimani was a choir boy or a criminal didn’t seem to matter to the mobs that trashed the neighborhood and challenged police officers in full riot gear.

New York police are bracing for another round of violent protests after the teen’s funeral.

But there is an upside. More than likely, the level of outrage will force the police precinct to engage in a serious dialogue with East Flatbush residents about their complaints.

Now compare the upheaval over Kimani’s shooting death in New York to the fallout behind the brutal murder of 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins in Chicago.

As expected, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy publicly condemned the appalling act. Also, a couple of African-American aldermen joined Ald. Willie Cochran’s (20th) call for gangs to stop harboring people who shoot innocent bystanders.

“Innocent victims are unacceptable. They are out-of-bounds. They’re off limits,” Cochran said.

But where were the other 47 aldermen?

An undisputable innocent was killed on the streets of Chicago, and our City Council treated the heinous act as if it were just another bad day in the ghetto.

The dead baby’s grieving mother set up a street memorial and tied balloons to a tree. One local rapper, best known for his raunchy lyrics, sent out a tweet chastising the shooter for not knowing the baby was in the van. Local rapper Lupe Fiasco dedicated a track to the slain baby that he unveiled last Thursday:

“How about them bullets that slow you up? You ain’t really die, we watched you grow up,” Fiasco raps.

But where are the clergy, activists and agitators who usually show up en masse when police are accused of shooting an unarmed person?

Police believe this unidentified shooter was targeting the baby’s father, Jonathan Watkins. Watkins is a reputed gang member with a hefty arrest record, according to police.

Most would agree that when a 6-month-old baby is shot and killed on the street, that’s as bad as it gets.

The person who shot Jonylah should have been turned over by now.

But so far, no one in the community has given police enough information to make an arrest.

The Rev. Corey Brooks, a spokesman for the grieving family, claims Watkins is cooperating with police. In fact, Brooks criticized police for focusing on Watkins’ long rap sheet and his gang ties since Watkins also is a victim.

I reached out to Brooks several times on Friday but the pastor did not return calls.

But what do you think would happen if a Chicago Police officer — white, black, Hispanic — accidentally shot a 6-month-old baby while trying to arrest the baby’s father.

It is not hard to imagine.

Aldermen would hold press conferences to demand answers. Every reverend within miles would organize a march or a vigil. Community advocates would go from block to block encouraging residents to join their fight for justice.

These same forces should be all over Woodlawn until the killer is brought to trial.

There is no excuse for what happened to Jonylah.



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