|Flyer for the Wings and Limo Ride|
Some people were appalled that a white candidate running for mayor of Shreveport would hold a rally in a black neighborhood and try to entice them with chicken wings and free limo rides to the polls. And that's the story that's spreading like wildfire on the web and social networks, going viral. The problem is: That's not what happened.
Just ask the organizers of the Bryan Wooley for Mayor campaign event. Donor and volunteer Virginia Evans told me, "We didn't have chicken! We had hamburgers and roast beef, prime rib." That fact didn't stop a mass of emails, social network messages, and the like from spreading as fast as the speed of light across the worldwide web.Critics tried to paint that rally, publicized by this flier, as a political stunt, allegedly promising chicken and free limo rides to the polls in the predominantly African-American community of Martin Luther King Drive in north Shreveport. Evans, who also happens to be African-American, says there was not even a hint of racism at her rally.Evans insisted, during our interview at her home Friday night, that the Wednesday (9/22) event was her idea alone to help bring attention to the MLK neighborhood and its needs. "No business(es) coming to our community, the streets are in bad shape."As for those free limo rides, Evans says only a few senior citizen ladies took her up on the offer, and it was only for early voting. Mayoral candidate Bryan Wooley told us, "I got opponents on my right who made an issue about the size of my signs and I have opponents on my left who are trying to play the race card saying this is racial."
An arsonist struck at Evans restaurant hours before that rally at Wings and More. It forced the entire event to be held outside. Despite that, Wooley added, "for us, it was a great opportunity. Folks that participated loved it, enjoyed it and appreciated the opportunity to engage in the process and we had a great time."Shreveport Fire Chief Brian Crawford confirmed to me that an arsonist struck about 2 a.m. Wednesday morning, in the back of 'Wings and More.' That restaurant's name, some suggest, likely led to the false conclusion that wings were served at the rally. There's no evidence so far linking the rally to the arson fire.
Shreveport is a majority Black city with a majority Black criminal problem. Trying to confront and stop Black crime would make sense, but in a world governed by the forces of Black Run America (BRA), this simple solution is a cause for major concern:
Ola Mae Kelly knows walking in the street is dangerous. But the 56-year-old also knows sometimes walking on the sidewalk can be equally so.In Shreveport, even props for a school play in the drama department can be called racist:
Years ago, Kelly was walking on the sidewalk when a man grabbed her from behind and dragged her away. Since then, the life-long Shreveport resident has made it a habit to walk in the street. It makes her feel safer.
At about 4:15 p.m. Aug. 16, Kelly was walking down East 75th Street, in the street, unaware she was breaking a city law that makes it illegal for citizens to walk in the street if there is a sidewalk. Kelly was surprised when a police car coming the opposite way, slowed and turned around after passing her.
She was even more bewildered when the encounter with officer Gerald McKinney resulted in injuries to her face, shoulder and knee — and her arrest.
"It happened so fast," said Kelly, who had two outstanding traffic violations. She was taken to jail and released after paying $490 bail. "I couldn't believe he was hitting me."
Kelly later filed an excessive force complaint alleging McKinney threw her to the ground and hit her in the face despite her attempts to comply with his orders. Two days after the incident — and before Kelly made her complaint — McKinney was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of internal and criminal investigations. Attempts to reach McKinney were unsuccessful.
Police Chief Willie Shaw said he would take appropriate action, if necessary, involving Kelly's complaint after criminal and internal investigations are complete.
But Shaw pointed out that such incidents are a small percentage of the annual 267,000 contacts the department has with citizens. For example, officers make about 15,000 arrests yearly and of those only 3.7 percent result in force being used. A small number of excessive force complaints made each year are found to have merit and result in corrective action to the officer involved, he said.
"We're going to enforce the law and in doing so, sometimes, we're not going to make the criminals happy," Shaw said. "My No. 1 priority is making the community safe."
Kelly's case may be about more than allegations of police brutality. Critics say the law that allowed McKinney to stop Kelly appears to be targeting Shreveport's black citizens and enforced only in black neighborhoods. That notion is supported by an analysis of five year's worth of arrest data that shows nearly all involved black citizens, mostly were made in black neighborhoods and half were made against young black men.
Those statistics trouble NAACP President Lloyd Thompson, who questions why the law seems to be enforced only in black neighborhoods and against black men 25 years old and younger.
"I'm concerned the ordinance could be used as a harassment tool towards young African-Americans," Thompson said.
Shreveport police officer union President Michael Carter said perspective is needed in reviewing arrests. Officers have "thousands" of contacts each year with citizens walking in the street that don't result in an arrest. An arrest usually comes only after a citizen refuses to comply with an officer's instructions, uses profanity or is rude, or is suspected of another crime.
"What's happening here is you have an escalation of police defiance," Carter said. "You have a constant 'in your face attitude' from this younger generation."
The Times' review of walking in the street arrests from Jan. 1, 2005, through Sept. 12, 2010, reveals:
92 percent of those arrested were black
Half of all those arrested were young men ages 17 to 25 — predominantly black;
Arrests almost exclusively were made in black neighborhoods; no arrests were made in mostly white neighborhoods, such as Broadmoor.Thompson said the high numbers of blacks arrested for walking in the street is alarming and worthy of review by Shreveport's mayor and City Council. The law should be fairly enforced "across the board," Thompson said.
Is this a symbol of hate, or just a misunderstanding?
"And it looks like a noose," said Ebony Ross, a junior at C.E. Byrd High School who snapped a picture of it.
She says she was so offended that she cried when she saw it.
"I was shocked, and I was ... why would this happen and it's Black History Month," said Ross.
But it's the schools position, that while the placement of this rope appears suspect, and even unfortunate, it is not a hangman's noose, and there's no hate crime.Head of Caddo school security, Roy Murry says "The drama club was using the rope to secure lights to the balcony."
Look, we've said it before: the South must be evacuated. Leave behind you those desiring watching football played by athlete-students who have no business even being enrolled in major institutions behind. Leave those who seek the votes of those who enjoy the luxurious combination of "Chicken and Limo rides" behind.Ebony says the principal had it removed, but blew off her concerns it might have been a noose and, with it, a symbolic threat against blacks in the school.
Really, all you can do is laugh at what the United States of America represents in 2010: the beauty of Democracy represented by both Alvin Greene and the political machinations of offering chicken and a limo ride for but your vote.
At least Black people in Shreveport desire a change of their image... why are Black people in so much trouble with the law?
Because they break the law. Shreveport is but a microcosm of the problem the country faces.
We'd still love to go on that limo ride, though.