Devon Martes was shot and killed by a Jefferson Parish Sheriff deputy last week. You cannot help but feel sympathy for his mother, a woman who has lost two of her five sons in violent shooting deaths in the last eight years. Devon was the youngest of eleven children.
“Devon was a really kind person but he just got himself caught up in too much stuff,” Martes said of her son. “He really wasn’t a bad boy, but he put himself in that situation. He put himself in harm’s way.”
Of the deputies, she said: “They had to do what they had to do.”
Sheriff Newell Normand at a press conference listed Martes’ criminal record, which, starting at the age of 10, includes shoplifting, distribution of drugs, trespassing, and attempted armed robbery . . .
“He had brand new tennis shoes he never put on. There’s no reason for you to do this,” she said. “You got a momma and a dad. That’s one blessing right there. We work, we come home. We work, we come home and we take care of them. We just took them Sunday to Gulfport, to the Gulf Island Water Park.”
Alesia Martes spoke of of how she attempted to teach her youngest son from the example of his older brothers violent death.
“Devon took Brandon’s death real hard,” Martes said. “But he loved them streets. I said, ‘Devon, you have to stop being out there. Don’t you see what happened to your brother? Didn’t this wake y’all up?’ But he was hardheaded. They’re just hard to deal with, those teenagers.”
We are being told, daily, that violence in black urban areas is the fault of the police. Actually, it is a fault that comes from too much distrust of the police. The urban black crime centers need more police, and more active policing. That can help reduce the violence.
But the crime rates will not come down to levels we know are possible until the citizens in those areas realize that the police are part of the solution, and not the problem. When that happens, fewer police will be necessary.
A false narrative has been created: police are part of the problem. It might have been true 50, even 40, perhaps, in spots, as late as 30 years ago. It is more likely that even then, the problem was neglect of proper policing, and corrupt policing, instead of too much policing. It is not true any longer.
It is time for the the black community to reject the easy blame game of the race hustlers who push the police and the “system” as the problem. Those who reject responsibility for their own communities are pushing for young black men to reject civilization and choose the path of the streets. The black urban culture has to embrace responsibility and the idea that bad choices produce bad ends.
Only then can the black urban culture start the long climb to reach the same level of peaceful existence that most of the rest of America enjoys. It will not be easy, but it can be done.
Alisia Martes shows that the base of that acceptance of responsibility is out there. She shows it when she says “he put himself in harms way.” It is a start, but more is required.
When the Internet cliché changes from “he was turning his life around” to “he put himself in harms way,” we will know that we are moving in the correct direction. When a gun is seen as a means of defense against criminals, and not as a tool of a criminal career, we will be moving in the right direction.
Guns in the hands of peaceful, responsible black people are part of the solution. When black people see that they are trusted with the same level of responsibility as is the rest of society, it helps build a community of mutual trust. When armed black men and police see each other as allies instead of adversaries, we will have started to win the war.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.