Baton Rouge Strong – A Solution offered by Caleb Harris

Memorial

This past Sunday was very tough for me. First off, my thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of the victims of this heinous hate crime towards law enforcement here in Baton Rouge. How much more blood will be shed before we realize that violence is not the answer? Honestly, at this point, I am really tired of saying that. It is almost as if this tragedy were something that would happen in a bad dream. Something surreal like you would see on TV. I never would’ve thought this would happen in my hometown.

To some degree, I believe we need gun reform in this country. However, as the old cliché states, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” It is the individuals who make these terrifying decisions, to viciously murder others, who need to be held accountable for their actions. Until people rid themselves of evil and stop judging others then we will continue to see these same awful events occur. This goes for both sides.

The African-American community and law enforcement agents are uncomfortable around each other and it just shouldn’t be that way. Right now our police officers need our support now more than ever. I have respect for our law enforcement and believe just like a few bad cops do not represent all law enforcement; the individuals who committed the horrible murders this past week do not represent all of the African-American community.

The tension in Baton Rouge is suffocating. What makes this feel more devastating is that I feel the citizens of Baton Rouge have been very peaceful in protesting the recent police killing of Alton Sterling. Our town was already on edge and it’s unfortunate situations like this that force some off the deep end. I do not mind out-of-towners coming to Baton Rouge to protest and let their voices be heard about the recent events, but please be respectful of our beautiful city. And, if you are coming to cause nonsense and chaos, do not bother coming, because you are only making matters worse.

I believe the only way to begin the healing is if there is justice for the death of Alton Sterling. Otherwise, I feel things are going to continue to get worse. I would like to see some sort of procedure go into law about what is expected anytime black lives and the police come into contact with each other. Currently, it seems there is no protocol and that is why so many situations escalate quickly.

There is also so much stereotyping that goes on by the police. They think that all young African American males are gang members, drug dealers, loud, obnoxious, violent, and ignorant. The list goes on. There are so many negative reputations about African Americans that are difficult for others to get past. I think the most important aspect to remember about everyone is that we are all different and it is important to actually meet people then come up with your opinions on that individual through experiences.

Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald and Brad Garafola the officers who were killed unceremoniously. These men are heroes and should be treated as such. They as well other law enforcement put their lives on the line to protect so many. Bullets do not know the stories behind the people they kill. Each one of these men had a family and did not deserve this fate. The hate in some are strong but the will of Baton Rouge is stronger. We will not let these few tragic events define us as a community. There is a lot of work to do but as long as we work together I believe we will triumph.

We need to work with our community leadership to organize and come up with solutions. There should be a community forum between local law enforcement and African-American leaders in churches, organizations, schools etc. where everyone’s grievances can be aired out and new ideas can be proposed about how to resolve conflicts in the future. The past cannot be erased but it is going to take everyone working together to ensure a more positive and productive future.

I am motivated by all the previous civil rights leaders who fought and died for people of my race so that we could someday have equal rights. It motivates me to work hard so that these revolutionaries’ efforts were not a lost cause. As a member of the generation that succeeded theirs, I feel obligated to make the most of the opportunities that they were not afforded.

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The roots of my family’s history run deep, especially in Louisiana. I do believe that slavery is a reason why the African-American community started off very behind but it is not an excuse for why we cannot overcome. Unfortunately, racism still exists in society and some still have the “slave and master” mentality. It does upset me because there are a lot of instances when I am judged before I even open mouth. I still, however, am optimistic that I can surpass this problem and not let others opinions of me hold me back.

I am an independent artist on the rise and I feel that it is my calling to be a blessing for others and utilize my talents to help uplift others. I want to create opportunities for those who have none and feel life is hopeless. I want them to know that they are not crazy or alone.”

I believe the universe puts all the right people in your path and you either learn from them or teach them. I donate my time back to the community and would do anything to help one of my fellow humans out.

I would like to let young African-American males know that they are important and mean something to the world no matter how hopeless at times it may seem. WE are capable of doing anything that we set our mind too. NEVER stop persevering.

Check out a great interview with Caleb here.

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