MOUNTJOY: Where are black leaders when they are needed most?

The so-called black leaders that spewed 'call to action' after the Zimmerman trial need to expand their concepts of equal justice. Photo: Newsom and Christian / AP

WASHINGTON, August 20, 2013 — Channon Christian, 21, and Hugh Newsom, 22, were carjacked in Knoxville, Tenn., January 6, 2007. From that point on, they endured unspeakable torture, then were brutally murdered.

According to the testimony of the Knox County Acting Medical Examiner, Newsom was sodomized with a foreign object then physically raped. He had been blindfolded, bound and gagged and stripped from the waist down. He endured hours of torture and rape while offering no resistance because he was outnumbered and shot in the shoulder and back.

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Newsom was paralyzed from these gunshot wounds and died from a pistol put directly to his head and fired after he begged for his life. His body was set on fire.

Not only did Christian witness this brutality, her death was far more tortuous, drawn out and brutal.

Christian’s death also came after hours of torture. She was repeatedly raped, sodomized, suffered severe injuries to her anus and vagina, scrubbed down with bleach on her wounds, then had bleach poured down her throat to conceal DNA evidence, suggesting forced fellatio with oral ejaculation.

She was not bound until the end of her ordeal and a grocery bag placed was over her head then she was stuffed in several trash bags, covered with sheets and dumped in a dumpster. As freezing cold temperatures added to her torture and weakened her, she slowly suffocated to death.

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Five arrests were made and convictions brought to bear on the people who committed these acts. Some feel that because the victims were white and their killers black, there was little media interest and zero interest from civil rights leaders.

It wasn’t labeled a “hate crime.”

In the wake of the Zimmerman/Martin extravaganza black “leaders” have come out of the woodwork, some saying that Zimmerman was not injured enough to use deadly force. What level of pain and injury should a victim endure before striking back?

There may have been a totally different outcome for Christian and Newsom had they been armed with handguns.

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So what became of the protests from the “black leaders” over the Zimmerman case? Not much and there are many reasons but one stands out: Black community leaders are not leading; they are responding. They come out from behind their pulpits and desks when the cameras show up, but to whine and complain, not to lead. 

“Call my stylist, man the Cadillacs and book a fight! Cameras are rolling!”

Black leaders must be active, not reactive to achieve their goals. Pulpits are numerous but talk is cheap. Some facts to consider:

The perpetrators of these horrific events, George Thomas, Letavis Cobbins, Lemaricus Davidson and Vanessa Coleman had criminal histories of hardcore crime, yet they were released to commit more. Common sense tells us that these murders were not the first crime they collectively or individually committed after release from prior prison terms or probation.

John Gill, special counsel to Knox County District Attorney Randy Nichols claimed “There is absolutely no proof of a hate crime,” and that “The people charged in this case were friends with white people, socialized with white people and dated white people.”

This comment smacks of the 1950’s comments some white folks made such as “I’m not racist. I know two black people and had coffee with one just last month.” Many people in the justice system, media and the parents of these youngsters disagree with Gill.

Unfortunately, we will never know the racial epithets hurled at the victims because they were tortured to death. It is doubtful either victim was addressed by their given names.

Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts claims “Blacks and Latinos are underrepresented in news media as victims of crimes and significantly overrepresented as perpetrators”.

Let’s review:

  • The National Youth Gang Survey Analysis reports gang members are comprised of 59 percent Hispanic, 35 percent Black and 9 percent white.
  • According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, non-Hispanic blacks accounted for almost 40 percent of the prison population in the USA yet blacks only comprise about 13 percent of the nation’s total population. Hispanics comprise about 16 percent and occupy about 13 percent of the nation’s population although this statistic could easily be significantly higher.
  • Black men in their thirties are twice as likely to have a prison record as whites.
  • Blacks and Latinos are underrepresented as victims and overrepresented as perpetrators? The largest number of criminal victimization is the providence of whites. It seems these groups do not need the media or anyone else to represent them. They represent themselves quite effectively.

So where does black leadership weigh in on the Christian/Newsom murders?  Where is the NAACP or ACLU, Rev. Amos Brown, Rev. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson et al and their ‘call to action’ for civil rights? Did Christian and Newsom not have civil rights? Of course they did so pack up the desk, leave the pulpits and champion civil rights.

Yet where are these so-called civil rights advocates now? Back behind their desks or spewing from a pulpit.

Black leadership, like all leadership, starts by teaching the young to respect authority, social mores, morals, rules and law. Individuals and collective society need boundaries and young folk can learn to understand that in the Zimmerman/Martin drama, Martin could have walked away and sued for civil rights infringement (if he had a case) and that legal systems are in place to address justice and injustice. 

Folks of all ages need to understand the right to free speech and physically attacking those who say something unpleasant is not a legal reason to react with physical violence.

Black leaders must be pro-active in teaching all children that everyone has equal rights and to not act criminally. However, this requires leaving desks and churches to go to where kids congregate daily-schools and interracial community meetings.

Elder black civil rights leaders who gave and sacrificed so much for equal rights some 50 years ago are owed so much from the young but are rarely paid with respect, and gratitude. Their slogan should now be “We don’t get paid and we’re too old to crusade”. They gave much of themselves as leaders of the 1960’s era but the young seem to not care and abuse what their elders fought for. Young leaders need to fill this void.

As for whites, over 600,000 were casualties of the Civil War, 50,000 in the Revolutionary War, 320,000 in WWI, 1,076,245 in WWII, 211,454 in Viet Nam and more in subsequent wars in an effort to create, maintain and ensure a free America.
Blacks and Latinos sacrificed in relative large numbers as well.

Those wars, as with Iraq and Afghanistan, were truly ‘calls to action’, not carrying signs, media peacocking and jawing.

Law enforcement and intelligence agents at all levels work hard and sacrifice greatly to ensure American rights and civil liberties are protected. If one must carry a weapon for a living, it is a dangerous endeavor and a difficult job if citizens do not respect boundaries of law and social behavior.

As rockers Crosby, Stills and Nash wrote: “Teach your children well”. Civil rights belong to all Americans and must be represented equally.

Setting aside arguments of race and culture as an Achilles heel, the implementation of applied cross culture civil rights is what our Constitution demands and our forefathers insist on. Oversight, enforcement and implementation are assigned to the leaders of our nation and understanding originates in our communities with programs that embed fair application into young minds to carry forth into the future.

Hopefully, in time, leaders of all races, religions, creed and cultures can unite to assure the edicts of the constitution are transparently achieved and so-called ‘calls to action’ will apply with humanity as the singular criteria and address civil rights with uniform application.

The goal for ‘calls to action’ should be an effort to seek “Liberty and justice for all” and most importantly, for victims of supreme injustice.

In other words, all civil rights leaders should have been called to action for Christian and Newsom uniting the concept of the equality they seek.  Black civil rights leaders may never achieve their goal of civil equality by uniting unequally. The surest way to gain support of the majority is to discover means to peacefully support the majority as circumstances dictate. The murders of Christian and Newsom are examples to work together, united in effort.

The trials of the accused and convicted where held during the current presidential administration yet President Obama never weighed in on these murders as he inappropriately did with the Zimmerman trial by declaring “That could have been me 30 years ago.”

 In today’s America, these murders could have been the Vice President and his wife- at any given moment.


Paul Mountjoy is a columnist for Washington Times Communities.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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