The fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown last week has led to a series of angry protests in Ferguson, Missouri. As some protests turned violent and police have implemented military tactics there, the issue of race and violence has once again come into the nation’s focus.
Monday on WNPR's Where We Live, we continued the conversation on urban policing. Shafiq Abdussabur, a New Haven police officer and author of A Black Man’s Guide to Law Enforcement in America, said that while police shootings are horrific and painful, there is still a tremendous amount of black-on-black violence.
“We first need to police our children,” Abdussabur said, speaking to the black community. “That is the responsibility of black fathers, black mothers, black families, the black community, because this is an issue within the black community. Gun violence among black males is a black male issue. It’s not black females killing black females. It’s young black men killing young black men.”
Abdussabur said that as the national spotlight turns to Ferguson and in light of the string of tragedies, the black community needs to start thinking about ways to prevent such violence in the future. “I would like to see... black leaders in the black community long before any black male hits that ground... We need to start thinking ahead: prevention, prevention, not reaction. So what we’re seeing right now in Ferguson is a very bad reaction to a very tragic situation.”
Listen to Abdussabur speak more about black-on-black violence here:
In Ferguson, only three of 53 police officers are black. Where We Live delved into the question of whether a more diverse police force would reduce incidents like these.
Abdussabur acknowledged that it is clearly important in this day and age to have people in the police force that resemble the community they serve, to a certain extent. "If we just settle with the concept that a white male officer cannot provide public safety for a black community," he said, "then I think we’re farther back in America and progress than we think we are. That’s a training issue. It’s a job; you’re trained for it."
Listen to more from the conversation here: