Time for a change

Published 12:30 pm Sunday, July 29, 2018

An inflection point is defined as a time of significant change in a situation, or a turning point. It remains to be seen whether the broad daylight shooting of Jadarius Richardson is indeed a turning point in addressing crime in Selma, or not.

A few days after Richardson’s shooting, I attended the initial meeting of a group of local residents who were fed up with the crime that has plagued our city for many years.

The group, Saving Selma Lives, was obviously frustrated, sad, and yes, fed up, with the violence in our city. I can’t blame them. My family and I have lived in Selma about a dozen years and I’ve had to publish in this newspaper too many stories about children being murdered in this city.

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So like the group who I joined at city hall Tuesday for silent protest during a city council meeting, I’ve had enough. And so should you.

This is our city. It’s where we live, where we work, where we worship. Regardless of your demographic, the people of Selma are a family. And yes, we should work together to lift each other up in time of need. This is one of those times.

I don’t pretend to know the answer, because I don’t have one. But what I do know, and what this newspaper has reported on for the dozen years I’ve lived here, is our police force is woefully equipped to help prevent crime from happening, and to respond to it when it does.

There are stories about police cars breaking down during pursuits, the offices where our police officers and support personnel work being mold infested, technology that was deployed about the time I graduated high school, just to name a few.

After the meeting I attended I briefly spoke to councilwoman Susan Youngblood, who’d commented there needed to be an “increase” in order to address those situations. By increase she was referring to taxes of some nature, money generated off an already tax strapped citizenry to fund improving the inadequate equipment our police force is challenged to work with.

I for one would be open to some sort of tax increase if I knew, and could somehow be guaranteed, the money would go toward that purpose. But we’re not there, yet. I could drone on about the dysfunction in city government right now, but that’s another column for another day.

What I do know is the grassroots movement that begun after Richardson’s shooting needs your help. Call your councilperson. Attend city council meetings. Write letters to the editor. Get involved with your neighbors. And if you see something, say something.

As a newspaper we are going to take a deep dive into public safety funding in our city, how it compares to others our size. We’re also going to find out what is happening in the courts as those who commit crimes make their way through the system. We will seek to understand every step of the process, and inform you what happens, and hopefully why. We’ll also look into the many unsolved murders that have happened in Selma the past several years, and what is being done to solve them. The families of the victims need closure. We owe them that.

My hope is that maybe bringing some clarity to these issues will result in some positive action that will benefit everyone in Selma. And if that happens, it’s about time.