Mon May 6, 2013
'Compassion Walk' to Commemorate Parkland Shootings Criticized
Louisville Metro Councilwoman Attica Scott, D-1, and community activist Christopher 2x announced a march to commemorate the triple homicide in the Parkland neighborhood last year.
But one of the family members of a victim says it's a misplaced attempt by the city lawmaker and activist to grab headlines.
The shootings at 32nd Street and Greenwood Avenue occurred on May 17, 2012, resulting in the deaths of Craig Bland Jr., 22, Tyson Mimms, 24 and Makeba Lee, 24.
At least one of the shootings occurred in front of dozens of onlookers, including local media and police officers. The brazen act sparked local outrage among residents and elected officials and a mayoral task force was launched to conduct a study on how to prevent violence.
During a Monday press conference, Scott and 2X announced plans to hold a moment of silence on May 17 featuring Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad, along with a "Compassion Walk" on May 18 at the site of the three homicides.
"What I’m hoping it will do is one, to help people to reflect on the fact that we have lost way too many lives in the city of Louisville to senseless and unnecessary gun violence," says Scott. "And also to ask themselves what are they doing to make a difference in neighborhoods that are experiencing this type of violence."
But Lee's grandfather says it's disturbing neither Scott's office or 2X's group Connected Voices contacted his family about the march, adding the focus should be more about solutions than their personal tragedies.
"These issues are based on a lack of education and lack of employment opportunities that keeps young African-American males isolated," says Ed White, who is also founder of River City Drum Corps. "For our politicians to sit around and come up with a march without contacting the people it directly effects is insensitive, unprofessional and it's grandstanding."
Scott says she is not organizing the planned march in Parkland, but wanted to help drawn attention to the demonstration. The councilwoman has invited other council members to join and told WFPL the victim's families had been contacted to her knowledge.
"I am sure that Christopher 2X has invited some of the family members because he has mentioned to me on several occasions being in contact with Mr. Bland and speaking to the mother of Ms. Lee," says Scott.
But White tells WFPL when he talked to his daughter on Monday, she hadn't heard of any planned marches to mark the anniversary of Lee's death.
"Christopher 2X has made a career on people dying, okay. He's Dr. Death," says White. "You know this is personal. Where is the respect and common decency for the people this will effect for the rest of our lives."
"You're going to have a march about my tragedy, but when are we going to stop marching and start doing? We've had almost 365 days since this happened, what program has Attica Scott implemented to address the issues of people not getting involved. Here is the anniversary of this very tragic event and we're getting ready to march."
2X could not be reached for comment.
Since last year, Scott has launched several initiatives in and around the Parkland area focused on housing and blight issues mostly. According to council records, her office has spent nearly $100,000 in discretionary funds towards demolition projects, grass cutting and community gardens.
But community leaders argue that since the Parkland shootings occurred little money or programming has been spent on preventing violence and most residents feel left out.
"As far as engaging the residents and the people who live in the community or even getting their input in what needs to happen, that has not happened," says LIFE Institute CEO Eddie Woods, who deals with at-risk youth. "The vigils and things like that do more to sell or do business who make candles. It doesn't help much because the people who need to receive the message don't have vehicles for receiving the message or care about the folks who are giving the message."
Woods is involved with the No More Red Dots Campaign, which is supported by Councilman David James, D-6, and other non-profit groups. He argues the most significant difference in Parkland has been the re-opening of the Parkland Boys & Girls Club, but most are beginning to ignore subsequent shootings and homicides, such as a recent triple murder in south Louisville.
"How can you talk about reducing violence or anti-violence programs, and you don't include the people who are most prone to be the culprits? And I mean the ones with the guns," says Woods. "You got to have them in the conversation at some point in time."
Other community activists, however, defend the march as a necessary step to get those very young people involved.
"I hope that us coming out brings hope to this community and gives them relief, and let's them know there are people who feel the same way as them," says Connected Voices member and hip-hop artist Rodney Brown, who goes by the stage name Young Zillion. "People want to deal with these issues of violence, but they don't know who to step to or people who can help them to solve this."
Brown gained local attention for spray painting anti-violence messages on vacant and abandoned properties. He says Woods and White's criticisms are misplaced, and a new generation can be reached with a compassion walk.
"I was once CJ and I was once Tyson, so I definitely cannot agree with that and I will be at the forefront of this march. I needed help and I needed guidance, and I got that from people like Councilwoman Scott and Christopher 2X," he says. "They're entitled to their opinion and Mr. White's one of the people dealing with losing a loved one. But this is an anniversary date for everybody, and so many victims of crime who have to deal with these tragedies."