Rev. Jesse Jackson Takes on Black-on-Black Violence

Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition is staging marches to curb gun violence in the Black community.

Posted: 06/15/2012 01:58 PM EDT
Rev. Jesse Jackson tackles on Black-on-Black violence.

(Photo: REUTERS/Lance Murphey)

Calling Rev. Jesse Jackson a veteran of the civil rights movement is an understatement. But at age 70 and more than 50 years after he began his crusade in and for the Black community, Jackson says he has one last battle to fight: curbing the cyclical trend of Black-on-Black violence.

“Each year ... about 7,000 African-Americans are murdered, more than nine times out of 10 by other African-Americans," Jackson said in a statement ahead of a series of nationwide anti-gun violence marches planned for Saturday. "If a foreign foe took these lives, we would mobilize armies and armadas to stop them. But here, because much of this violence is contained in racially concentrated neighborhoods, there is too much resignation and too little outrage."

Gun laws that many say promote that violence, such as Stand Your Ground laws, have become a sore point of concentration over the past year in the wake of the shooting death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin. Martin, 17, was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer who pegged the teen as suspicious, although he had not committed any crime. But amid the discourse about racial profiling sparked by Trayvon's death, there are some in the African-American community who say Black-on-Black violence poses a far greater danger than assaults from the outside.

“The epidemic is truly Black on Black crime,” former Texas NAACP leader C.L. Bryant told the Daily Caller website, echoing Jackson’s sentiment. “The greatest danger to the lives of young Black men are young Black men.”

Unfortunately, there is grisly evidence to back up these claims. Last weekend, Chicago saw one of its bloodiest weekends as eight people were killed and 40 others were wounded as a result of gang violence. Among the fallen was 16-year-old African-American Joseph Briggs, whose death posed a sobering contrast to Trayvon’s death: While rallies were held nationwide to protest the unfair shooting of Trayvon, Briggs, who was shot while on the front porch of his home, will likely only be mourned by his local community.

The problem, Jackson believes, is at once both institutional and cyclical. It forces many in impoverished neighborhoods into patterns that support violence and poverty.

“We know the roots of this violence. The poor are crowded into desperate neighborhoods. Joblessness produces despair, depression and hopelessness," Jackson says. "Drugs and guns spread in the underground economy. Gangs start warring on mean streets. The young go to the poorest schools. They are more likely to be suspended, less likely to graduate. They face the worst job market since the Great Depression.”

On June 16, 2012, marches will take place in Chicago; Memphis, Tennessee; St. Louis, Missouri; East St. Louis, Illinois; Des Moines, Iowa: Jackson, Mississippi; Detroit; Flint, Michigan; Benton Harbor, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Tampa Florida; Panama City, Florida; South Bend, Indiana; Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama; Columbus, Ohio; Cincinnati; Gary, Indiana; Tulsa, Oklahoma; San Francisco; and Los Angeles.

For more information visit: www.rainbowpush.org


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