By Gregory Meriweather March 18, 2016
According to the Violence Policy Center, Indiana ranked No. 1 in Black homicide victimization in 2013. Although I am concerned with the entire state, I must first cut the grass in my own yard. In 2015, 87 percent of homicides of white victims in Indianapolis were solved. Only 50 percent of homicides were solved when the victim was Black. I find these statistics alarming, yet disappointing.
I had the opportunity to speak with a father whose son was murdered in 2015. Unfortunately, his son’s murderer has not been apprehended. When speaking to this father, the first thing that I realized is how lifeless he seemed. Every time I reached out to him, I would ask how he was doing. Each time he answered, I could feel the pains of each day he lived knowing there was someone walking freely with his son’s blood on their hands. Being the father of two children, I could not imagine how I would feel if I were in this man’s shoes. Then my mind began to think about all the messages that are sent when a murder goes unsolved.
The first message I believe was sent is that the murder rate will continue to increase if people believe they can get away with it. What are we saying to would-be murderers? From the looks of the lack of murders solved in the Black community, it seems as if one would stand a good chance of getting away with murder, as long as the person(s) killed are Black.
It also sends the message that someone wants us to kill each other. If this is not the case, why are only 50 percent of the murders resolved when the victim is Black? In most grading systems, 50 percent means you’re failing. We watched the former IMPD chief tell us they were going to utilize every resource they had to solve a homicide when the victim was a white woman. It took them no time to find someone to bring to justice. Are our people not worth the utilization of the same resources to bring their murderers to justice?
When people ask why Black people do not trust the police, the answers are all written in blood or behind prison walls. When you look at all the corruption police departments across the country have taken part in as it relates to Black people, you would think society would understand. Why would I believe you are going to make sure the people who are killing us are brought to justice when you are killing us, too? Nevertheless, this is a relationship that needs to improve by leaps and bounds.
Here are a few things I believe need to happen so there can be a decrease in unsolved murders:
We need to get back to having neighborhood police officers. We need police officers who look like the people they serve the most. We need officers who are not afraid to get out of their police car without pulling out their guns first. When officers talking to people in the neighborhoods become a normal thing, then citizens talking to the police about serious matters won’t seem so strange or as dangerous.
IMPD, you can’t send the message of not caring to these streets. In most cases, your best allies are the people in the community. You need us just as much as we need you. Homicide detectives, answer your phone as best you can. Make a return phone call in at least 24 hours to let the family know the case still matters to you. If there is nothing else you can do, tell them that. Express to the family what you feel is necessary to crack the case, and let them help you.
We need to communicate and engage ourselves with IMPD. I know it may be a challenge, but it’s necessary. If we do our part, and they do theirs, I believe we will see a change.
If neither of us do our part, we will come to the conclusion that we are happy dying and they are happy seeing us kill ourselves.
Gregory Meriweather is the host of The Expo Show, and Chief Executive Officer at Black on Black LLC.