7/22/2007 – Printed in the PERSPECTIVE section of The St Petersburg Times Newspaper
If St. Petersburg is a microcosm of black life in the United States, and I believe that it is, black America is in such dire straits because of violent black-on-black crime and apathy it may be doomed to second-class citizenship in perpetuity.
Just 10 days ago, another decent, family oriented, hardworking, law-abiding black resident was shot and killed in one of St. Petersburg’s predominantly black neighborhoods.
This time, the victim was 68-year-old Amuel Murph, a retired Postal Service employee who lived in middle class Lake Maggiore Shores. Police say Murph was gunned down at close range in his driveway while taking out trash at about 5 a.m. Police believe that he may have chanced upon a group of robbers trying to break in or steal three vehicles. The killer used a heavy assault rifle.
When Murph’s wife of 45 years, Mary Murph, came to the window to see what had happened, the killer fired at her several times but missed. Like her husband, Mary Murph, 64, has led an exemplary life. In 1972, she founded the Tampa Bay Area Sickle Disease Foundation, and she was a guidance counselor at Campbell Elementary School.
Although Amuel Murph’s death is yet another statistic in the bloody tapestry of black life in America, I take his loss personally. I am angry. I knew Amuel Murph only casually, when we greeted each other at the post office on First Avenue N. He had a ready smile and a sincere “hello.”
I met his wife several years ago at a health fair for black residents. Because of her, I became a supporter of sickle cell efforts. One of the couple’s daughters, Tangela, owned the Reader’s Choice Books and Gift Expression bookstore in Maximo Plaza on 34th Street S. Over the years, I bought several books there.
Sadly, another good man, a black man who fretted over the appearance of his house and his yard, has been murdered in a black neighborhood.
At this writing, the police are trying to gather clues as to who the killer is. I will bet a year’s salary that several black people in the general Midtown area know the killer and his accomplices.
Thus far, however, no one has come forward with information. As a result of the code of silence prevalent in too many black areas nationwide, black criminals feel safe to carry out their remorseless work. A few years ago, a teenage thug in Bartlett Park – bragging that he had hijacked two cars and had robbed a drug dealer with a handgun – told me that he was “the freest nigga in the ‘hood.”
Why? Because he could do whatever he pleased and “nobody better say sh–,” he said with cold confidence.
He frightened me. And he sickened me.
I told a police officer about him, but the officer said the department couldn’t act because I hadn’t witnessed the teen committing a crime. Several months later, though, the teen was arrested on a charge of armed robbery, only because the police had developed enough evidence on their own. They didn’t get any help from the community.
Many blacks, along with some white liberals, complain that the police don’t do enough to control violent crime in the black community. Such complaints are nave, and they wrongly blame the police.
Only when blacks take to their own streets, only when blacks start snitching and only when blacks declare that they are mad as hell and will not take it anymore will black-on-black crime decrease.
As long as black criminals feel safe to ply their evil trade in black neighborhoods, black-on-black horrors will proliferate.
We blacks have ourselves to blame.