But Ferguson, What About Black On Black Crime?

August 26, 2014  |  

PJ is a former member of the Bloods. Big 20z is a former member of the Crips. In Ferguson on the now infamous West Florissant Avenue, they marched side by side chanting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and demanding an end to violence. They also eold a sign, which read in blue and red lettering: “NO MORE CRIPS. NO MORE BLOOD. ONE PEOPLE. NO GANG ZONE”

I asked them about rumors of there being a truce between the two gangs in the St. Louis area. Big 20z confirmed them: “The truce is real. And it is a beautiful thing.”

PJ and Big 20z have been personally holding a vigil against police brutality and for Michael Brown on a 24-hour bases, even going as far as to set up a make shift encampment in the parking lot of a furniture store, which is also right on the edge of the pre-approved protest zone established by local and state law enforcement.

Big 20z assured everything is “all love” when both sets show up at the same time to protest. In fact, he said, it’s like one big family. When I asked him who called the truce between the rival gangs he explained it was the “new generation” who were tired of what he alleges is constant brutality from the police, as well as the threat of prison.

“Young black men are dying from the police and they are dying from the gangs too, if I can be honest with you. But this is a bigger problem, so we took it upon ourselves to focus our energy on making a better solution for the community we live in. The gang don’t (sic)  matter no more. We’re standing up. We need food, education, not to live in poverty. You got people in two counties away living better than we do and what exactly makes them better than me? That’s what the Crips and Bloods realized. We were fighting each other over who was better than the other when we should have been standing together and fighting together.”

Big 20z said right now the truce is limited to the St. Louis area, but he and PJ have been actively spreading the message of their union to Bloods and Crips across the country. “They were like, ‘y’all turned up for real,’ “ PJ said. “And we’ve been letting them know that they can do the same thing. They can’t beat all of us. And we’ve been taking out each other for years. So now we are focusing our energy right where it needs to go.”

I asked PJ if he thinks the truce will last? Both chuckled before PJ answered. “Why does it keep on going on? What’s the purpose in me keeping on killing somebody? For a color? I’m trying to make sure my granny, my future kids, my little brother, my little sister, my nephews and my nieces live fine. They need a good education just like everybody else. We need jobs just like everybody else. We can’t depend on them. We got to start getting our stuff back together.”

Despite what many have come to believe, folks in Missouri are clearly concerned about black on black violence. Although Ferguson itself is relatively calm — the word used by most residents to describe the area is “quiet” — St. Louis city is another story.

Wendy January has traveled to Ferguson from the notorious East St. Louis just about every single night. Her motivation to see justice in a case in which she feels the police are trying to “get over.” She was also upset over the local and state government’s militarized response to what she said were mostly peaceful protests. Since the murder and the subsequent protest began, January said she, too, has noticed a calm in the community.

“That’s why I’m really for this movement, because there has been no violence in the city. Can’t nobody touch a Black person right now. We’re not going to let it happen and nobody has gone out to do anything dumb, so I’m with this. We are for one another and we all got each other’s back. Something they said we would never do. We’re mourning but we’re all sticking together.”

Only the August crime stat numbers can confirm or deny January’s impression. Those won’t come until September; however her words reflect what many folks around St. Louis county have been saying about their respective communities: out of the racial crisis came black unity.

While the mainstream media hangs exclusively onto the words and actions of the NAACP, there are many different groups actively also organizing in Ferguson. There are numerous Black clergy groups – way too many to name individually – and the brothers and sisters from the Nation of Islam as well. There are Black liberation groups and Black Greek letter organizations too. Even the Hebrew Israelites have come to march through the streets in their purple and gold robes.

In a sense, the activism around Justice for Mike Brown has become a microcosm of Black culture. Some folks turn to the Gospel, like Cassandra Brookfield who, on the way to getting her tires rotated, stopped by one of the protest tents on South Florissant to pray for them. “I wanted to go out and protest but I work the second shift,” she shared. “So I decided to pray with them and for everybody’s safety. God’s love is key to solving all of this.”

Others like Pastor Cori Bush of Kingdom Embassy International have taken a more on-the ground approach by setting up a help tent near the memorial where Mike Brown was gunned down. She’s been on site every day with several organizations, including the People Health Center and Hope Well Center, providing crisis intervention as well as grief counseling to local residents within the apartment complex and beyond who were most affected by the unrest.

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  • Not Gramsci

    Which side am I on?
    Innocent until proven guilty. How about you?

  • GeekMommaRants

    Thank you for this article. It really is hard to criticize when violence between blacks is an issue. Also, it is horrible that the violence rate would decrease when others treat us the way we treat each other.

  • frances

    Black on black crime is definitely a serious issue that needs to be addressed. However, it’s often brought up as a means of deflection by folks who truly couldn’t care less about it but use it to deflect when we voice our deeply justified anger at such senseless killings of black folks as those involving Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Jordan Davis, and now Michael Brown by rogue cops, wannabe cops, and misfits with anger and paranoia issues who shouldn’t have guns in the first place.

  • Sasha

    Beautiful this made my heart smile….

  • Live_in_LDN

    Good article. Whenever a member of authority (in this case, the police) does wrong against a black person, idiots always want to be like’ what about black on black crime’. This is a tactic in derailing the conversation and therefore allowing the murdering oppressors to win. It’s like these idiots can’t tell the difference between an authority figure commiting a murder and a citizen.

    Equally, if it is found out that a teacher (an authority figure in this analogy) was abusing the beating the ish out of a child in his care, which there has been stories published of this nature, it would be foolisness for people to comment ‘but kids bully each other all the time, lets talk about that’

    • charingb

      Thank you!

      • blogdiz

        Great Article ! This is one of my pet peeves Black on Black Crime is classic deflection and alas many black people are falling for it .That’s not to Say crime in the Black Community isn’t an issue but why make the point while standing in a slain teens blood. Furthermore there is on the ground community organizing to help mitigate against gang violence , sadly its not enough and there needs to be funds for retooling education and jobs etc. whilst really nothing seems to be being done about police brutality.

        PS. Article needs some proof reading not sure if you were saying tyres rotated instead of ‘tired’ and for the love of God please have MN stop with these annoying auto play videos !!

        • charingb

          Thanks for corrections.

    • hollyw

      Lmbo sooo right! That sounds ridiculous.

      ” It’s like these idiots can’t tell the difference between an authority figure commiting a murder and a citizen.”

      It’s usually the opposite, in fact; like, the murder is EXTRA-justified b/c it’s an authority figure. Ummm did y’all forget the actual purpose of police lol? “Liberals” will be too quick to fight authority on any other issue…unless it involves black folk.

  • guest

    There is no such thing as black on black crime. There is only CRIME.

    Most white victims of rape and murder are victimized by other whites but they don’t call it white on white crime.

    Let’s try to decolonize our minds.

  • The Elusive Chanteuse

    so according to certain statics i’ve read the rate for white on white crime is around 84% and the rate for black on black crime is around 92%. This could be interpreted that people murder where they live, right? Regardless of the percentage of black on black crime that doesn’t excuse the government condoning in institutionalized murder of brown people by police officers.

    • Sandra

      THANK YOU!!!! But alas, everyone wants to point out “black on black” issues during times of racial injustice. How about Madame Noire post these types of issues on any of the other 364 days of the year? As opposed to posting such hard-hitting journalism about “who’s shading who” and “hair weaves.”

      • charingb

        How about it does. I know because I write issue topics at least a couple of times a week. Folks should read them sometimes.

        • hollyw


          Did you write this article?

    • Say What?

      Their excuse for killing black people is the same one they use for saying the “n” word, which is “because black people do it.” White people kill other white people all the time, however if you listen to the media there’s usually a reason behind their crimes, which is usually a “mental illness”. There was article not too long ago about how when there’s a killing of a an innocent black kid the media tries to find ways to make him seem like a thug like they did with Trayvon Martin and are attempting to do with Mike Brown, however when their white contemporaries are shooting up schools the media always paint them as bright students who took a turn somehow for the worse and will list all their accomplishments before mentioning that they’ve clearly needed help for years. It’s an attack on the black population.

    • enlightenment

      EXACTLY. That’s what I’m saying. Black on Black crime is nothing to bat an eye at…people are more likely to murder who they live next to/who they know. White people are more likely to get murdered by Whites. It is what it is.

      But when the law adds to black homicide rates,…that’s something you gotta question!

    • hollyw

      YES!!! That is exactly the case lol! I hate how that black community as seriously taken in this “black-on-black crime” myth that was only created by the media to make blacks look like inherently violent people that’d make white-on- black crimes more justifiable! Smh!

      The stats are almost the same, with a slightly higher rate amongst blacks being accounted for by their higher poverty status…b/c more of us are poor and crime is far more linked to poverty than race!

      • MonicaT

        I don’t understand what that has to do with anything because who cares what the media makes blacks look like. It still does not excuse blacks killing blacks at a high rate. I could care less who was behind the gun or knife etc… Stop making excuses and make some noise, protest tear up the community about senseless killings in our own community. Don’t expect to be heard or valued if we don’t value the life of the innocent being killed in our own community. A 13 year honor student killed in grandmothers home over a play station. 4 people arrested and all charged with murder. The young man who shot him was a 17 year old. Now 5 lives gone over a senseless shooting. I’m not saying there isn’t police brutality because that too is an issue.

        • hollyw

          The point I made was that blacks AREN’T killing blacks “at a high rate”. Black crime is just more concentrated than white crimes, and they are more concentrated b/c more crime occurs in impoverished neighborhoods, which more black people live in than whites. Controlling for poverty, however, whites actually commit more “sensless” crimes b/c they will kill 5 random people before killing themselves before committing suicide, making the deaths of these others statistically random.

          I mentioned the media b/c they are the main ones keeping alive this myth that you have apparently internalized.

          So the point isn’t to protest to our own to stop killing each other, but to protest to community leaders for better living conditions, better jobs, and better resources for our youth, b/c again, as I said, crime is far more strongly related to poverty than race and there is no “black crime epidemic”. I am involved, it’s just in things that have actually been proven to be cause and effect, not what the media tells you it is.