Monday, August 6, 2007

What's Going On? Black-on-Black Homicide Hits Home

by Kam Williams

“Mother, mother, there's too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother, there's far too many of you dying
You know we've got to find a way, to bring some lovin' here today
Hey, what's going on?”
-- What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye

I last spoke to Chauncey Bailey just a couple of days before he was assassinated on the streets of downtown Oakland on the morning of August 2nd. He was murdered in broad daylight on his way to his office by a thug in a ski mask who pumped three rounds from a shotgun directly into his chest before jumping into a waiting getaway van.
I wish that I could say that Chauncey and I had shared some deeply meaningful exchange during that last chat, but it merely addressed a mundane concern of mine in my capacity as a syndicated contributor to the Oakland Post. In fact, since he took the job as the paper’s editor-in-chief this past June, all of our conversations had been brief and of a professional nature.
Still, I was very impressed with his work ethic and publishing acumen, and was quite confident that the Post would be in good hands during his tenure. Now, upon his passing, I have come to have my suspicions about the man confirmed by all the glowing tributes and testimonials about him by those who knew him well, both as a dedicated journalist and as a loving father.
The police already have a suspect in custody, Devaughndre Broussard, a 19 year-old ex-con who has reportedly confessed that he committed the crime in response to Bailey’s having written an unfavorable review of the Black Muslim Bakery where he was employed as a handyman. Quite frankly, this tragedy wouldn’t have registered more than a blip on the radar, if it weren’t for the victim’s esteemed status in the African-American community.
For seven more black folks were shot dead in the City of Oakland in the 48 hours immediately following the slaying of Bailey. Among those being treated like statistics was Byron Mitchell, 29, who was fatally wounded while being robbed. Jacqueline Venable, 40, was gunned down while eating cake at friend’s house. Khatari Gant, 25, perished after his car was peppered with bullets from an assault rifle. His brother and an acquaintance were also shot, but survived. Kevin Sharp, 20, was home watching TV when he answered a knock at the door only to have his head blown off. And three others.
Meanwhile, here in New Jersey, the hip-hop Holocaust exacted an equally-shocking toll in Newark last Saturday night, when three Delaware State University college students, Terrance Aerial, 18, Iofemi Hightower, 20, and Dashon Harvey, 20, none of whom had any police records, were lined up against a wall, forced to their knees, robbed and executed by bullets to the brain by a gang of gangstas. A fourth student, Natasha Aerial, 19, miraculously survived somehow, and is in stable condition in the hospital.
This skyrocketing black-on-black homicide rate is a shame which suggests that African-Americans’ sense of self-worth has plunged to an all-time low. And now that it has hit home, it makes me wanna holler “What’s going on?”

Lloyd Kam Williams is an attorney and a member of the bar in NJ, NY, CT, PA, MA & US Supreme Court bars.

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