Listen. Do you hear that? It’s the so-called black leadership’s silent response to the recent slaughter of defenseless civilians in Queens, New York. The Reverends Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton — and so many others who normally should be fitted with mute buttons — have been uncharacteristically mum lately despite numerous new reasons to holler.
John Taylor, 36, and Craig Godineaux, 30 — both possessing long criminal records — allegedly marched seven Wendy’s employees into their restaurant’s basement on May 24. Police say Taylor confessed to shooting the first two workers in the backs of their heads. Then he challenged his accused accomplice: “Let’s see what you can do.”
Officials said Godineaux opened fire, killing three more and injuring two others. The suspects reportedly fled with a mere $2,000 in cash. “This was clearly the worst crime I’ve seen,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, “the most brutal, the most callous, the most vicious execution-style murder of five innocents and the wounding of two others.”
Three black people were shot, two of them dead, along with three Hispanics and one Pakistani. Where are the “black leaders?” Whither their outrage? “No justice? Pass the peas.”
These suspected gunmen are black, thus blunting any clear ethnic angle in this largely black-on-black crime. Neither Sharpton nor Jackson can tie these deaths to Rudolph Giuliani, New York’s white, Republican mayor, or the police department he oversees. In short, there’s no racial or political advantage in inciting the masses to avenge the fallen. Sharpton and Jackson were similarly tight-lipped in April 1999 when police caught Issaac Jones, a black man suspected of raping 51 women in Minority neighborhoods. They never rallied their boisterous followers to denounce his actions outside his jailhouse.
Things were much louder, of course, in February 1999 when four undercover NYPD officers mistook law-abiding Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo for the then-at-large Issaac Jones and shot Diallo 19 times in a disastrously tragic foul-up. The noise continued when plainclothes cops shot unarmed Haitian immigrant Patrick Dorismond last March. These dreadful incidents fueled marches, celebrity arrestS, and non-stop commotion.
Sharpton, Jackson and other activists left no slogan unscreamed in their crusade to paint the NYPD as hot-headed, bigoted brutes who shoot young black men like sportsmen hunting ducks. “It’s open season on blacks,” Jackson declared. “The rope around our necks is gone,” preached Harlem Baptist minister Calvin Butts, “but the lynching continues.”
Even if we concede that the NYPD should exercise more restraint, Taylor and Godineaux reportedly shot more law-abiding blacks in one night than died in the Diallo and Dorismond fiascoes. Indeed, New York may be enduring the effects of a kinder and gentler NYPD. After plunging 68 percent between December 31, 1993 and the last day of 1998, Gotham’s homicide rate rose 6 percent last year. For the first quarter of 2000, it climbed 12.4 percent. Ironically, this may be due to the NYPD’s increased caution. Fearing that handcuffing criminals will subject them to slurs, picket lines and lawsuits, cops have curbed confrontations with crooks. Arrests for murder, rape, and other major crimes fell 9.45 percent last year.
“A lot of police feel that they’re subjected to constant second-guessing and abuse from the press and many of New York’s political leaders,” says Manhattan Institute fellow Heather MacDonald. “As a result, they’re reluctant to use their lawful powers to intervene before crimes occur.”
Murders are not rising at Carnegie Hall, the New York Times building or the other habitats of Gotham’s liberal elite. People increasingly are being killed in New York’s less fabulous neighborhoods, and their faces are more frequently black than white.
Sadly, this causes the reversal of measures that could genuinely save lives. The New York Post estimated that absent Giuliani’s tough anti-crime campaign, 2,299 additional black New Yorkers would have been murdered between 1993 and 1998. Indeed, Giuliani and a reinvigorated NYPD have saved more black lives than Sharpton, Jackson, and company ever have or ever will.
But now, from Wendy’s basement across New York, law-abiding blacks (and others) are dying in growing numbers, too often thanks to black perpetrators. As elsewhere across America, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson greet this evil with silence.
It would be easier to respect the charges of police racism and brutality lodged by these men and America’s other “black leaders” if they also condemned blacks who cut down other blacks. Alas, these shrill opportunists ignore the fact that even though the men accused of killing five Wendy’s employees are neither white nor in uniform, their alleged victims are no less dead.
— Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.