by Lynette Holloway
“Black-on-black” crime– especially gang violence– happens every day, but doesn’t receive the same attention as more racially charged incidents. We delve into the whys of intra-racial crime and what’s being done about it.
When Jason J. Davis set out to settle a score with a compatriot of the Bloods who “had messed up,” his mission was clear: teach him a brutal lesson. The then 23-year-old pursued his prey with the venomous rage of a man with a personal vendetta, even though they had no beef. “That was just his penalty,” he told UPTOWN magazine recently in a telephone interview from his home in Harlem.
The attempted execution took place one day in October 2003, just as a chill began to hang in the air of Dover, Del. Davis and two other gang members rode around with their target in a car and stabbed him repeatedly—a total of 16 times—until he was on the brink of death.
The victim survived, and Davis spent the next four years on the run. He became one of Delaware’s Most Wanted before he was ﬁnally captured in May 2007 as he walked down a street in Lebanon, Pa. He pleaded to a charge of conspiracy to commit a felony and spent a year in prison. A charge of attempted murder was dropped after prosecutors failed to prove a case.
Today, Davis, 31, is a changed man. He joined forces with Terrie M. Williams, founder of the Terrie Williams Agency public relations ﬁrm and The Stay Strong Foundation, which is dedicated to youth advocacy, to work as a mentor. He also became Williams’ mentee. Davis heard about the PR guru through another Blood named DaShaun Morris, who was writing a gang-awareness book, War of the Blood in My Veins: A Street Soldier’s March Toward Redemption. Williams promptly recruited Davis to write poetry for the project.
It’s a good thing. Davis had been a poster child for gang-aﬃliated bloodshed, which is a neighborhood scourge in urban cities across the nation—New York to Philadelphia, Chicago to Los Angeles. Elected oﬃcials, law enforcement authorities, and more and more “civilians” continue to grapple with gang violence, even as the FBI reports that violent crimes and murders declined by about 6 percent in the ﬁrst half of 2011.
The reality of black-on-black crime is not only a tragedy in black communities, but it has become the rallying cry of conservatives in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting. Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old African-American, was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic, in Sanford, Fla., after a still-contested altercation in February. Because Martin was unarmed and Zimmerman was not initially charged, there have been scores of emotional protests across the country. Yet, many on the right say that Zimmerman is a statistical anomaly, and the truth is that a black man is most likely to die at the hands of another black man.
During an episode of ABC’s This Week, Washington Post columnist George Will said that despite the Martin tragedy, “150 black men are killed every week in this country” and “about 94 percent of them by other black men.”
And though pundits like Edward Wyckoﬀ Williams have pointed out that whites, as the largest racial group, commit the majority of violent crimes in America, it almost seems like a hollow statistical tit for tat. In an op-ed column for TheRoot.com,Wyckoﬀ Williams writes, “With respect to aggravated assault, whites led blacks 2–1 in arrests; in forcible-rape cases, whites led all racial and ethnic groups by more than 2–1. And in larceny theft, whites led blacks, again, more than 2–1.”