In a candlelight vigil for Trayvon Martin last week in Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter spoke plainly and solemnly. "Eighty-five percent of homicide victims in Philadelphia are Black," he said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "How is it possible that thousands of Black people are killed every year and no one says a word? If it's just Black people, it doesn't register on the radar screen. Trayvon was assassinated."
Nutter is no stranger to controversy, nor is he ever silent when it comes to his feelings on America and the African-American community's problem violence against Black males. After a shooting that found two teenagers dead in January, Nutter proclaimed, "[The victims'] little butts should have either been in bed, getting ready for bed, or doing some homework, not out in a car, not in some other neighborhood and not up to this kind of nonsense. I’m not your mom and I’m not your dad. We cannot completely legislate, or by policy, make people responsible for their children."
In a word, Nutter is frustrated. He's feeling fed up with the widespread slaughter of young Black men, and it's not just him. Also speaking at the Philadelphia vigil was Philadelphia NAACP President Jerome Mondesire. "We've had 88 Trayvons since Jan. 1," said Mondesire. "We are killing each other at a disgusting, inhumane pace."
It may sound thoughtless, but some Black leaders would like to use Trayvon Martin's killing to remind the country that African-American men are getting killed all the time in the United States, and not just by overzealous neighborhood watchmen. Last year, for instance, Miami police killed seven Black men in eight months. In August 2011, a pack of teenagers in Mississippi ran over and killed James Craig Anderson, a 49-year-old Black gay man. And just this month, Pasadena police shot and killed a 19-year-old Black man for stealing a backpack. They falsely believed he was armed.
The fact is that Black men get killed in America almost constantly, by police, security guards, and one another. It's of course important to acknowledge that Trayvon Martin should still be alive and with us today. But Nutter is right: It's also important to acknowledge that thousands of other Black men should still be with us, as well.
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