Commentary: U.S. Attorney General Addresses Detroit Murders in Speech

At an address to the NAACP’s Detroit chapter, Eric Holder called the killings in the Black community “unacceptable.”

Posted: 05/09/2012 04:53 PM EDT

In the wake of the recent high-profile killings of two young Black men — Trayvon Martin and Kendrec McDade, not to mention the thousands of murders that have plagued America’s Black communities over the decades — Attorney General Eric Holder addressed homicide head-on at an NAACP event in Detroit on May 6. Holder was asked to give the keynote at the Detroit NAACP chapter’s Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner, and he spoke frankly to the 6,000 guests in attendance, noting, sadly, that more than two young African-American men are killed in Detroit every week. Holder called all the death “unacceptable.”


"In far too many American cities, there are neighborhoods where too many kids go to prison and too few go to college, where the doors of education opportunity seem to be firmly closed," Holder said. "And where for too many young people, funerals are more common than weddings.”


According to The Detroit News’ Maureen Feighan, Holders’ words were much needed:


“Holder's remarks came as violent crime continues to be a major issue in Detroit. From Jan. 1 to March 21, there were 70 murders in the city — a 37 percent jump over the same period last year, according to Detroit Police Department figures.”


But is Holder, America’s first Black attorney general, just paying lip service to the problem, as many high-level government officials have been before him?


His work says no. Under Holder’s tenure, not only did the Department of Justice launch a full investigation into the Trayvon killing, the department’s Civil Rights Division has become a major force to be reckoned with.


Led by Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, the wing attacks racist or otherwise bigoted injustices throughout the United States, the kinds that have long kept — and still keep — minorities from access to advancement. This doesn’t necessarily mean Holder directly attacks Black-on-Black crime or cops killing Black boys. But it does find Holder and his team attacking the root causes of some of these problems (inequality, police abuses, etc.).


What Holder seems to know, and what one would hope all people in his position should know, is that crime in the Black community is a symptom of larger problems, including unemployment, poverty and psychological trauma. If you find out how to better address those problems, you can also figure out how to drop the crime rate.


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