Can the Community and the Police Fulfill the Dream of King?

(Part 2 of 5)

What Role Does Poverty Play in the Sour Relationship Between the Community and Law Enforcement Agencies?


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As leaders try to bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement agencies we believe that Poverty & Illiteracy are the root causes behind a host of social problems that have a devastating effect on the quality of life in local communities—including police and community relations.  Part (2) of our ongoing series takes a brief look at the role poverty plays because to find a solution we must better understand the cause.  They say “Self Preservation” is the first law of nature and when citizens can’t find work, food, clothing and shelter they lose all hope in the American dream and resort to desperate measures including robbery, drug dealing, prostitution, burglary and a host of other illegal activities.  When crimes are committed the police are forced to respond, but need the support of the community to solve them.  Only the criminals will benefit if both parties are in a state of mistrust.  Is this the film where the good guys lose because at the end of the day both the community and Police must stand together to improve public safety?  Criminals don’t care if they shoot a baby in a stroller or a police officer on the corner; it is all the same to them.  The longer we take to establish honest dialogue about the problem the more at-risk we are.



What role does the “War on the Poor & Middle Class” play in all of this?  Those that work in law enforcement are considered middle class citizens whose job is to protect the rich and poor.  While the middle class and poor fight and kill each other in the ‘hood the rich sit back and get richer.  Now, there is nothing wrong with being rich, after all it is part of the American Dream.  But when the rich are not wise enough to spread the cash around chaos will ensue.  If you take a look at history, from Babylon, the Romans, Greece, England and France, the results have always been the same.  Great empires fall because the rich become too arrogant to understand that the hoarding of resources is a recipe for disaster.  The trillion-dollar question is “Are the rich of this era any smarter than those of the past?”  We have to also ask “When will the middle class and the poor realize that they are being played and put their minds together to demand social justice and economic equality for all?”  Middle class and poor people don’t make laws nor do they control the economy.  The rich with their political associates and lobbyists control the game of life and that is a fact, but there is still hope for the poor and middle class to take control of their future.

Let’s look at some data because talk is cheap.  Some of the “Super Rich” who control our financial decisions are laughing as we fight and kill each other over scraps.  A new paper released by economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman shows the bottom 90% of Americans own less than a quarter of the country’s wealth, down to 23% from a high of 36% in the mid-80s.  The figure represents the lowest amount of the nation’s wealth controlled by the middle and working classes since 1940 (what a shame, what a shame).  Unfortunately since the mid-80s, there’s been a dramatic decline as the top 10% hoard most of the wealth while the rest of us watch our savings account dwindle.  As we follow the money trail the top 1% own almost 40% of the country’s wealth.  One-tenth of 1% of Americans — about 16,000 families — owns over 11% of our country’s wealth, which is more than the bottom two-thirds of all of us combined.

SourceCommunityNYPD-RubbleTalk about income inequality, the bottom 60% of Americans have experienced a lost decade of either stagnant or falling wages since 2000 despite increasing their productivity 25% over the same period.  Wages for the 1% grew by about 200% since the 1960s.  It’s hard to save any money today, but the top 1% manages to save one-third of their income, while the rest of us are just getting by.  We have no safety net to protect us from the fall.  Do you know what has happened since President Lyndon Johnson declared an unconditional “War on Poverty” in his January 8, 1964 State of the Union Address?  There is no doubt that the United States has become a more affluent nation since that famous declaration.  Real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has in fact doubled over the past 50 years.  Despite this growth, the official poverty rate for 2012 now stands at 15%; a full 4% higher than it was during the early 1970s.  And the poverty rate is only 4% lower than the 19% rate of 1964.  It appears the plan has been failing for decades as poverty remains high and the wealthy continue to get richer.

SourceCommunityNYPD-justice symbolThe Great Recession reduced the net worth of Blacks and Hispanics much more than whites.  The decline in home values during the Great Recession increased wealth inequality because houses are the main assets of less advantaged groups.  In November 2013, 6 years after the start of the Great Recession, the proportion of all 25-54 year olds who hold jobs (i.e., “prime age employment”) was almost 5% lower than it was in December 2007, both for men and women alike.  The ratio for men, currently at 82.7%, is the 10th worst ratio over the last 13 years while the ratio for women, currently at 69.2%, is the 12th worst ratio over the last 13 years.  It is known that youth unemployment in some communities is as high as 50%.  When young people can’t find a job, nor have a quality recreational center to hangout in, what do you think the end results will be?

SourceCommunityNYPD-crimesceneSome citizens, especially the mentally ill, do not know how to cope with poverty and economic decay.  When confronted with this and other issues they are like a ticking time bomb ready to snap, which puts us all at risk, as we witnessed with the two police officers slain last month.  We are not making excuses for bad behavior, but we are trying to take a look at the “Root Cause” behind the problem.  When poor mentally ill people don’t get the proper help, we are playing “Russian Roulette” with all our lives.  We need to invest more money into healthcare for the Mentally Ill and the reform of the Criminal Justice System because there is nothing more important than public safety.

SourceCommunityNYPD-WinJianFuneralOn Sunday, January 4, 2015 in NYC they buried Detective Wenjian Liu, who was slain with his partner last month.  It is our hope that we will all learn from this tragedy so that their deaths will not have been in vain.  Stay tuned for Part 3, which again focuses on poverty as one of the culprits because the lynchpin of our democracy is Civil & Human Rights, which can’t be achieved without economic equality.  It is our hope that through this series we can find new innovative ways to stop the violence and build stronger relations between the community and law enforcement agencies.  For further info on the Rap 2 Bridge the Gap” initiative or to make comments and/or find information related to the 5 part series hit us up at:

Detective Wenjian Liu

Detective Wenjian Liu

Posted by Charles and Randy Fisher (Twitter / Facebook / Instagram @HHSYC).