Progress evident in police, media reaction to shooting in Eaton Centre

By Arnold Auguste Thursday June 07 2012 in Opinion
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By ARNOLD A. AUGUSTE, Publisher/Senior Editor

It was bound to happen. In less than 24 hours after the shooting at the Eaton Centre, someone had posted a comment on our website at demanding to hear from the Black leaders.


“There is LITTLE that you hear from black community leaders that portray any type of leadership dealing with their young males being both violent and irresponsible in caring for their offspring as per abandonment and having society pick up the pieces.


“It is about time we see some leadership out of the black community pertaining to reining in the violence of some (not all) young black males.”




First, tell us who the Black leaders are so that we can ask them. Second, tell us what you would like to see these ‘Black leaders’ do in “dealing with their young males”.


It was refreshing to see both the mainstream media and law enforcement put this terrifying situation in perspective. And it was also a relief to see the quick arrest of a suspect who turned himself in to police. Obviously, this individual must have realized that time was not on his side and that his capture was imminent.


This speaks both to the quality of law enforcement in our city and to how far we have come as a society in dealing with incidents such as this.


There were no “barbarians at the gates” comments, as far as I could tell and little or no “the sky is falling” rhetoric. Both the police and the media handled this as the ghastly crime it was and went to great lengths to not blame an entire community for the actions of one individual.


That is progress.


We have said it before, but it is worth repeating. Criminals in our community are not our brothers and sisters and are not to be protected by us. In fact, they are more likely to prey on members of our community than on others. Just look at the list of victims many among us have had to mourn over the past number of years.


But when people call on Black leaders to step up we have to question motive. Are they just ignorant or spiteful? Or just naïve.


There are a lot of wonderfully committed people in our community who have dedicated much of their time (and lives) to helping others. We read their stories every week in Share. They are working to educate us about the various diseases that affect and afflict Black people such as diabetes, heart disease and prostate cancer. They are working to help our youth get a good education either through free afterschool and weekend programs or raising funds to provide scholarship money to help them get to university. They are providing social programs to help single mothers, the homeless, the unemployed, the youth. They are continually pressing public and private organizations to provide more assistance to those in need.


When we read of the banks and other corporations, organizations and agencies getting involved with the community it is because individuals in our community and others have been working quietly behind the scenes to make these things happen. And a lot of it is done to help guide our youth away from a life of crime. These people care…they really do!


You won’t hear them making a lot of noise, although sometimes a little noise is not a bad thing. But don’t ever dismiss the work that they do.


Do we need the kind of outspoken, political leadership we see elsewhere? Maybe people in our community with the ability and qualifications to provide this kind of leadership don’t think it is necessary. I tend, personally, to disagree. I would love to see some kind of leadership group or committee that can speak out, intelligently, on issues that affect us specifically, people who have the profile and respect both within and outside of our community and, most importantly, who really and deeply care.


But, do us all a favour and let the people trained to do policing do their work; cooperate with them so that they can help keep our city and its neighbourhoods safe and don’t use sad incidents such as the latest shooting to try to diminish our community and the stalwarts who make it work.


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