This column by Bill Hoffmann was published August 19, 2014 on Newsmax.com.
The Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton — two leading civil rights activists who dashed to Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of a black teenager by a white cop — often ignore the violence that plagues key African-American communities, former Cincinnati Mayor Ken Blackwell says.
“These are the same guys that turn a blind eye to the violence and the killing of young blacks all across this country in some of the major central cities of America,” Blackwell said Tuesday on “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.
“There is enough wanton violence in Chicago, in Detroit, you name the city, for the Sharptons, the Jacksons, and leaders on the right to bring focus to.”
Blackwell, who also served as Ohio’s secretary of state and is now senior fellow for family empowerment at the Family Research Council, pointed to FBI statistics that in 2012, about 2,600 whites were killed by other whites and 2,400 blacks were killed by other blacks.
It “sounds like those are similar numbers, but when you consider, as [Washington Post columnist] Eugene Robinson pointed out the other day, that the white population, non-Hispanic white population, is about five times as large as the African-American population, that means the homicide rate in black communities is surprisingly and startlingly higher,” Blackwell said.
“That means that if you really are concerned about black lives, the outrage, the insistence for action, constructive action, should be looking at the cultural context that creates that sort of insensitivity and non-appreciation for life and innocence and civility.”
Sharpton, in particular, has been criticized for stirring up emotions in racially tense Ferguson, a predominantly black suburb of St. Louis.
Blackwell said Ferguson — which has seen 10 days of rioting, looting, and arson since 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, was shot by police officer Darrell Wilson, who is white — remains in “a state of confusion and misdirection.”
“What happened has to be clearly examined, and it must be handled according to the rule of law. We must dispassionately establish the facts, and this situation cannot be handled by it being politicized,” he said.
“Whether Michael Brown’s actions justified Officer Wilson’s shooting him six times is ultimately a question for police investigation, possibly a prosecutor and a jury. It is not the stuff of street drama.”