Kenneth L. Hardin: Do our city leaders really care about the gun violence?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 20, 2022

Is our crime control, citizen safety and gun violence plan written in secret invisible ink?  Do I need to pull out my old comic books from the 1970s and purchase that decoder ring from the back cover to unveil this plan?  With all the continued gunfire that seems to occur with such frequency and regularity, I don’t think one exists.

The people pretending to be leaders of this city seem to have no clue as to how to address this deadly scourge that has plagued this city for nearly three decades. When it comes to clunky art, over-budgeted parks we can’t afford to maintain, and art festivals, we do well. When it comes to giving citizens peace of mind and the safety to go out and enjoy these amenities, the ball is dropped, picked up again and dropped harder the next time.  This city has earned the title our out of touch so-called leaders strongly rebuke, “Shotsbury,” and despise this historic little slice of crime ridden and gun violent pie being associated with it.

I’ve been accused of not loving my hometown and a detriment to business growth simply because I have the courage to speak up and describe the true reflection the mirror shows of it.  We have others who would rather dance when there is no music playing or scratch when they don’t itch, all to misrepresent what is really going on so they can continue sitting in the Council’s comfortable chairs.  If these professional politicians would care more about actually helping people instead of trying to get re-elected every two years, then maybe we wouldn’t have frail senior citizens diving onto floors and crawling under furniture to escape flying bullets.  I cringe every time I hear a professional  politician proudly proclaim that they “won” an election.  When you look at it as a contest instead of gaining the trust of the people to represent their needs, then you’re already in it for the wrong reason. This is why I find the whole debate process so boring, pedantic and pointless. People profess what they will do if they “win,” then use the next two years not doing anything they promised.  They don’t understand that you’re what you actually do, not what you say you will do. That’s  why I typically skip the Martin Luther King Day events.  What I’ve seen is a cadre of  professional politicians who put on their best Sunday-going-to-church clothes, rehearse their best  MLK quote, and dance off rhythm to music all to make promises to Black people they won’t keep or honor.

If they did actually care, there would be a strong strategic plan in place to address the gun violence that has been so prevalent in the Black community for nearly three decades. Instead, all we get is community conversations to analyze a problem we’ve been talking about every two years since the mid 1990’s. What else is there to analyze?

Let’s put some action plans into place before the bullets start flying out of the hood and finding their way into more affluent zip codes. As I typically do, I’m sure I’m stepping on toes,  but if I am, put on sturdier shoes because I’ve got more to say.  It’s not even about the First Amendment, it’s about the city’s so-called leaders creating such a fear-based environment that many people feel uncomfortable disagreeing or speaking out.

That doesn’t yield growth, it only results in control and stagnation. Instead of ideas that could yield resolution to this gun problem, you get excuses.  The one I’m sick of hearing is how gun violence is a problem everywhere, not just in Salisbury.

Well, I don’t live everywhere, so I’m only concerned about the bullets flying around needlessly in my city. The other is how the understaffed police can’t get cooperation from the Black community. You can’t show disdain for and a lack of respect for a community and then expect cooperation when it’s convenient for a photo op.

That’s what professional politicians do when they ask their spouse to stand up beside them when they’re caught up in a scandal. Skinfolk’s ain’t built like that. But if you only engage with the Black community once a year at the MLK celebration, you wouldn’t know that. The Black community needs to take a stronger stand and more responsibility for the gun violence, but the last time I checked, there were no gun manufacturing facilities on the West End. Instead of pointless and failed campaigns like the NAACP’s operation ceasefire program, we need real strategies and resources devoted to the effort.

Like so many others, I don’t feel safe anywhere in this city.  I have no confidence in the so-called leaders because I never hear their voice on gun violence.

Just show us this super-duper secret plan.

Kenneth L. “Kenny” Hardin is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.