Frank Reddick has taken note. Five days after sections of his district reacted with outrage at the Zimmerman verdict, the Tampa City Councilman spoke at the end of a Council meeting about the lack of outrage after the murder of Horsley Shorter Jr., who was shot and killed while working as manager of a Family Dollar Store in his neighborhood. That prompted him to call for a community-wide meeting about black-on-black crime, which was held Thursday night at Middleton High School.
"What have you done to reduce crime in the black community?" asked moderator Darrell Daniels, executive director of Derrick Brooks Charities and the evening's emcee. "Tell us what you think we as a community need to do together to reduce crime."
The dais consisted of 13 people, including Reddick, County Commissioner Les Miller, state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, educators, and members of the religious community. Joyner said that "there's never an outrage when it's white on white crime, it's only when we do it to each other when there's a big media push."
Somewhat surprisingly the audience (approximately 150 people) was devoid of any young men, despite the fact that the issue seems to concern them the most. Reddick said he believes gang members should be invited to the next public discussion.
Elliott Saunders, co-founder of Advocates for Safer Communities, was one of several speakers to blast what he called "the black code in our neighborhoods."
"They see it, they don't want to tell it," he said of the anathema to snitching. "If you see it, tell it! More of us need to do that. We see a lot of things. We know a lot of things, but we'll sit back and won't tell it."
There have been 15 homicides in Tampa in 2013, which is comparatively low when looking at some of the other states. In Oakland, for example, there have been 61 homicides. Out of the Tampa homicides, 11 of the victims were black, and eight of the suspects were black.
Although there was lots of talk about God, Hillsborough Community College professor Keith Berry said that the churches alone couldn't deal with violence in the black community. He said it is too broad and systemic. "I'm not an angry black man," he said. I'm an "annoyed black man."
Hillsborough County school board member Dorothea Edgecomb said the adults are going to have to "step up to the plate."
"We can't be our children's friends," she said. "We can't feel bad to say 'no' when it's right to say 'no'." She added that parents have relegated too much of their own values in dealing with their kids.
The panelists were given two minutes to speak about the issue in the first hour of the session. The second hour consisted of a Q-and-A between members of the audience and the panel.
Activist Life Malcolm said he applauded Councilman Reddick for calling the meeting, but afterwards he told CL that he was disappointed because none of the elected officials on the dais addressed how to create policy to address the issues of urban violence.
"Nobody could imagine doing one thing with the city budget, county budget, school board budget or the state budget to address the situation?" he asked.
Councilman Reddick said he intends to convene a second forum about black-on-black crime in West Tampa, though no date has been announced.