Collins column: Stirring up a long, hot summer on race

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By Michael Collins

For MarylandReporter.com

Racial tensions are simmering in Anne Arundel County.  Or at least, that’s what some political activists want you to believe.

County Councilman Pete Smith, D-Severn, thinks Anne Arundel County needs to declare a “state of emergency” on race relations.  Activist Carl Snowden, and his new group, the Caucus of African American Leaders, have joined the fight.

At a caucus meeting last month, Smith said he would push the County Council for the state of emergency, citing a discrimination complaint against the deputy fire chief at BWI airport, a few unsubstantiated complaints against Annapolis police, and the murder of Richard Collins at Bowie State by a white man from Severna Park.

The murder of Second Lieutenant Collins is indeed horrific, and the perpetrator should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

In the meantime, the deputy fire chief was disciplined and the Annapolis police chief has been fired.  Which begs the question: where’s the need for a state of emergency?

Smith, Snowden, and the Caucus then teamed up to push an anti-hatred resolution in the County Council.  The purpose of the resolution was only symbolic.  But some people seemed to make the debate more about attacking Councilman Michael Peroutka, R-Severna Park, for his past association with the League of the South.  Since being elected to office, however, Peroutka has conducted himself honorably and there has not been a whiff of racial intolerance or animosity connected to him.  So the animus by Smith and the Caucus seemed puzzling — as if they were spoiling for a fight.

Racial justice

Snowden also has been calling for “racial justice” in court appointments too.  He began last year by making it imperative to put an African-American woman on the bench, something that never has happened in Anne Arundel County history. He championed the candidacy of Claudia Barber, an African-American woman in the 2016 elections, which she lost.

Barber might have stood a better chance of being a circuit court judge had she been found qualified for the post by the Judicial Nominating Commission. And her election prospects might have improved had she not been found to be in violation of ethics standards in the District of Columbia where she served as an administrative judge—after a complaint was lodged by a fellow Democrat.

For his part, Snowden might have been on firmer ground to complain about the lack of judicial appointments of African Americans had he not been silent for the eight years in which Gov. Martin O’Malley failed to put an African-American on the circuit court bench in Anne Arundel County.

Rally on the Dock

In late June, Smith, Snowden, and others held a rally on City Dock in Annapolis to renew calls for a state of emergency on race relations.  Many of the protestors carried signs with names and faces of African Americans whose deaths sparked national outcry.

Those represented included Sandra Bland (Texas), Michael Brown (Missouri), Aiyana Jones (Detroit), Antonio Zambrano (Washington), Trayvon Martin (Florida), Timothy Stansbury (New York), Rekia Boyd (Chicago), Philando Castille (Minnesota), and Amadou Diallo, who was killed in New York nearly 20 years ago.  While all of those deaths are tragic, none of those cases have a connection to Anne Arundel County.

The case closest to home was that of Freddie Gray, who died in Baltimore.  The mayor, police chief, states attorney, half the arresting officers, the U.S. Attorney General, and the President were African American at the time.  Was Gray’s death tragic and avoidable? Yes.  Was it racism? No — though many would insist it was a result of decades of institutional racism.

Whatever it was, it was not in Anne Arundel County.

Dog whistles

I found it surprising that absent in this protest were names like Kymici Brown, Walter “Buck” Bryan, Charles Edward Carroll Jr., Shawn Crowdy, Jordan Davis, Davon Jones, Charles King, Martin Vasquez, and Deandre Waymen—all persons of color murdered in Annapolis in 2016.

Carl Snowden is right that there is an emergency in the black community, but it may not be the one he is implying.  Most of these homicides were connected to public housing, which he oversaw for years as chairman of the board of the Annapolis housing authority.

By whipping up the visage of rogue police murdering unarmed black men, Carl Snowden is making the problem worse.  Studies have shown that police are indeed pulling back from communities of color, known as the “Freddie Gray Effect,” which leaves those communities at higher risk of mayhem.

He seems not to be as interested in solving the problem that is right under his nose—black-on-black crime in his community—as he is in blowing the most vile dog whistle for partisan political advantage.

Partisan politics

Carl Snowden has been a longtime Democratic activist with a history of stirring up racial issues in election years, and getting plum appointments afterward.

In a June 27 column in The Capital newspaper, Snowden rightly implored voters to cast informed votes.  But he gave up the game when he said that, “the 2017 elections will be a dress rehearsal for the 2018 mid-term elections.”

Snowden’s message seems clear.  The tactics of racial division are being road-tested in this year’s mayoral election in Annapolis, and will be refined for use in next year’s gubernatorial election.  This is not about addressing systemic racism.  It is a cynical ploy to turn out the black vote for Democrats, and should be called what it is.

Michael Collins can be reached at michaelcollins.capital@gmail.com

Related links

“Anne Arundel County passes-anti-racism resolution”

http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/government/ph-ac-cn-council-hate-0606-20170605-story.html

“Groups hold anti-racism rally at City Dock”

http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/annapolis/ph-ac-cn-emergency-rally-0626-20170625-story.html

Photo Gallery: State of Emergency for Racial Injustice

http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/government/cgnews-state-of-emergency-for-racial-injustice-rally-20170625-photogallery.html

“Annapolis marks deadliest year for homicides”

http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/for_the_record/ph-ac-cn-annapolis-homicides-0927-20160927-story.html

“2016 Annapolis homicide victims”

http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/annapolis/cgnews-2016-annapolis-homicide-victims-20161001-photogallery.html

“Baltimore Homicides”

http://data.baltimoresun.com/news/police/homicides/

“Carl Snowden: City residents need to cast informed votes”

http://www.capitalgazette.com/opinion/columns/ph-ac-ce-column-snowden-0627-20170626-story.html

  • Dale McNamee

    They should be ridiculed and ignored… The “racism” shtick is not effective anymore… Frankly, I’m sick of it !

    • Justice for all

      Spoken like a true racist who is no different than those who opposed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his peaceful protests.

      • Dale McNamee

        You are quite wrong my friend…
        I’m tired of hearing about “400 years” and endless whining about their situation despite the $22+ TRILLION spent to improve their lot…

        Welfare, affirmative action, good stamps, Section 8, desegregation, etc. haven’t produced the kind of citizens that were imagined by LBJ and his so-called “Great Society”…

        I’m tired of excuses…

        BTW, Martin Luther King Jr. would not approve of what blacks are doing today…
        He was a Republican and those who opposed him we’re Democrats…

        And they still “run the plantation” called “The Great Society”…

        Also why can some black Americans and those from Africa succeed despite “racism” ?

        Could it be that they see through the claims of “racism” ?

        • Justice for all

          You don’t have to come to any demonstration. Let them exercise their constitutional rights just as you are making these unsubstantiated baseless hateful remarks in this forum. These demonstrators are on the right side of history as was Dr. King. Same message. Different year. Segregation is morally wrong was a sign in the movie Hidden Figures. Today’s message is no different. An all white judiciary is morally wrong.

          • Dale McNamee

            If an all white judiciary is morally wrong… By what morality are you making that judgement ?

            Would you say the same if they ruled “your way” ?

            An all black judiciary would be just as “morally wrong”…

            And what if those protesters perform a repeat of the “Freddy Gray” riots ?

            They were “protesting” and as a result, we have 180 homicides this year, and over 300+ homicides in 2015 & 2016…

            These aren’t the same as the protests by MLK in the ’60’s…

          • Justice for all

            You obviously are clueless and don’t know what you are talking about. There have already been several peaceful protests on this subject matter since May. Continue in your folly.

          • Dale McNamee

            I guess that telling he truth is “hateful” to you… And if being truthful makes me “hateful”…So be it !

            BTW, things can get ugly pretty quick at “peaceful protests”…Look it up…
            Shootings at anti-gun protests and vigils have happened… As have fights…
            Again, look it up…

          • Justice for all

            So that does not explain the peaceful protests that have happened so far, which makes your statement untruthful. The chief of police is always aware and has our backs. But we will be sure to inform him of your inciting riot messages in this thread.

          • Dale McNamee

            So…Where am I “inciting a riot” ?

            By mentioning the riots of 2015 here in Baltimore ?

            And by mentioning how peaceful protests can turn violent at the provocations of some who attend them ?

            I’m happy if they are not violent…

            But, you should look up the term “long, hot, summer” and the context of it…

            I lived through the riots of the ’60’s and those summers were “on edge”…

            BTW, how old are you ?

          • Justice for all

            Another peaceful protest again today. You are wrong again. Your thoughts are not to promote or encourage peaceful protests. Your point is to discourage them and keep the systemic problems the status quo. Of course you are on the wrong side of history when our protests are about justice for all and your message is always a message of discouragement and ignorance.

          • Dale McNamee

            So, mentioning the truth is bigotry, hatred, terror discouragement, and ignorance, eh ?

            It’s strange that these demonstrations aren’t mentioned in the news… Especially when they happen every day, or so it seems as you state…

          • Justice for all

            Wrong again. There was no mention these demonstrations happen every day. Another misrepresentation and untrue statement of yours. And yes these demonstrations have been in Anne Arundel county newspapers and covered by three major market television stations today. There is just no end to your untruthful statements. You should stop now while your credibility is zero.

  • Justice for all

    Trolls are a perfect sign you are doing things right. This article is very slanderous. The writer and publication should be sued for libel.