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Roland Martin
Roland S. Martin
8 Aug 2014
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20 Jun 2014
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More Guns Will Not Solve St. Louis' Crime Problem


I personally have witnessed how drugs and poverty can form a combustible combination that can destroy a community that once saw children freely run the streets and neighbors spend time outside talking with one another, as opposed to turning their homes into armed fortresses and never venturing beyond their front doors.

So a part of me truly understands the anger and frustration of St. Louis Alderman Charles Quincy Troupe, who has gotten so tired of the city's murder rate spiraling upward that he has made a public outcry for residents to go and get as many guns as possible in order to protect themselves.

Troupe contends that the St. Louis police department isn't doing enough to fight crime and has been unable, or unwilling, to take proactive measures to halt the killings, of which, according to The Associated Press, there have been "157 Ö in 2008, 33 more than last year at this time."

"The community has to be ready to defend itself because it's clear the economy is going to get worse, and criminals are getting more bold," Troupe said.

There is no doubt that the worsening economy has made an increasing number of Americans desperate, and we see that playing out all the time in inner cities, where crime typically goes up when the economy goes down. And that same economy is making it difficult for cities to pay for essential city services, and some even have stopped hiring new police officers because they just can't afford them.

But the flip side to the take-up-your-arms argument is that we can't turn our communities into the Wild West, where criminals and law-abiding citizens engaged in shootouts on streets in the middle of the day. And more guns undoubtedly will endanger more children because the folks Troupe represents likely won't buy the safes necessary to keep the weapons away from their little ones. Too many people stash their guns under their mattresses or in shoe boxes in their closets, and then we are left to bury children who were felled by playing with guns with their friends.

We all have seen this story play out. So instead of running to the nearest gun store or buying guns illegally, citizens in St. Louis and other crime-infested cities should take a grass-roots approach to fighting crime. If we are to have a safe nation, that requires safe states. To have a safe state, we must have safe cities, and that requires safe neighborhoods. And our safe neighborhoods will only get that way when we have safe streets, which means that your home needs to be safe. And that requires that each of us makes the personal decision to stop complaining and get to work.

—Form crime watch groups. There simply aren't enough cops to patrol every square block of a city.

Yet if residents on a particular street decided to come together and look out for one another and joined up with other streets in their neighborhood, they could serve as the eyes and ears of the community. If there is suspicious activity, they can relay that information directly to the police for them to act. Some crime watch groups document the license plate numbers of cars coming and going so they can track who is coming in and out of their neighborhoods.

—End the "no-snitching" attitude. When thugs know that a community will remain silent when crimes are committed, they will run amok. But residents can't be held hostage in their own homes. There are too many unsolved crimes because people who have relevant information about them won't say anything. City officials in St. Louis should set up more phone lines for people to provide details of various crimes, even allowing people to send text messages anonymously.

—Encourage churches to take their message to the streets. Forest Whitaker played a wonderful role in the film "Deacons for Defense." During the civil rights movement, in a number of Southern towns, black men who were deacons at their churches took up arms and patrolled their communities at night. They worked diligently to keep members of the Ku Klux Klan from wreaking terror in their neighborhoods. Today the KKK has been replaced by gangs and other thugs who are just as brazen in their disrespect for people and the law. In many inner-city neighborhoods, you can find a church on every street corner. Those churches should do more than just pray that the violence stops. They must encourage their members to be as bold outside the churches' walls as they are inside.

—Ask the local and state police to create their own "surge" to attack violence. American taxpayers spent a ton of money as 30,000 troops descended on Baghdad to quell the violence in Iraq. So why are we so afraid of "zero-tolerance" zones here? When I was a reporter in Fort Worth, Texas, a few years ago, the police would set up roadblocks and check each car for guns, drugs and the driver's license and registration. These efforts were a result of skyrocketing murders and an outcry from the city. Yes, there were those who complained about a police state in their neighborhoods, but I rather would see a stepped-up police presence than be abandoned. City and state leaders must create this kind of presence in hot spots in order to take down those involved in illegal activities.

Fighting crime today is not a one-way street. There is no way police can do it alone. When residents begin to echo 1960s civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer by saying they are "sick and tired of being sick and tired" and work with the cops to take back our streets and neighborhoods, we can do more good through nonviolent means than we ever could do with armed resistance.

Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN contributor and the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith." Please visit his Web site at To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



1 Comments | Post Comment
YES WE CAN turn our streets into the wild, wild west once again ! Sooner or later all the bad guys (blacks) will be DEAD and then the crime rate will plummet to virtually ZERO ! It's a real simple fix that no one wants to admit to. Thank god for the AIDS virus, (sub human bitches are 23 times more likely to be infected than human females) every little bit helps !
Comment: #1
Posted by: Zealot
Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:38 AM
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