A terrible message from KAOSS

Published 9:21 pm Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Such is the disingenuousness of the American debate today that we must note right up front here that ALL lives matter, that nobody deserves to be brutalized and that anybody entering police custody peacefully should be able to do so with absolute confidence that he or she will not die at the hands of the police.

Of course, nearly everyone believes these things. The fact that some folks have been forced to feel they must state them so explicitly reveals the degree of success experienced by the manufactured-outrage racket these days.

The hypocrisy of that business could hardly be plainer than it was on Thursday, when members of the Suffolk PTA Council were “entertained” by elementary and middle school students who have been conscripted into a bit of political theater masquerading as a mentorship program.

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To demonstrate what they’ve learned in an after-school program called KAOSS (Kids Always on the Same Step) Entertainment, students performed a step program whose theme was a protest against police brutality. Participants called out the names of young people who have died in police custody recently around the country, resurrecting, among other things, the discredited urban legend of Michael Brown’s alleged attempt to surrender to police before he was shot to death in Ferguson, Mo.

One assumes that the program must have included a reference to the most recent high-profile death of a black man in police custody — Baltimore’s Freddie Gray. Gray’s death sparked days of violent rioting in Charm City, and the unofficial police backlash against the indictment and arrest of six Baltimore police officers on charges ranging up to second-degree murder have resulted in plummeting arrest rates on crimes of all nature in Baltimore since those charges were lodged.

Sadly, fewer arrests have been neither the cause nor the effect of falling crime rates there. Actually, it’s questionable whether crime rates have fallen. In fact, the number of murders in Baltimore in May was 43, making it the most violent month there in the past 40 years.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there had been 116 homicides in Baltimore this year, including 109 African-American victims, 77 of whom were males below the age of 34. On the other side of the coin, the American Civil Liberties Union has reported that — during the period from 2010 to 2014 — a total of 31 people died after police encounters in Baltimore, and that total does not distinguish between incidents that were legitimate or illegitimate uses of deadly force.

Notwithstanding the isolated (and as-yet un-adjudicated) case of a Freddie Gray in Baltimore or a Walter Scott in South Carolina, the problem young African-Americans should be worried about is not police brutality. Ignoring the true nature of the vast percentage of homicides in the black community and choosing to concentrate on a select few that occur at the hands of officials abusing their authority is a dangerous kind of hypocrisy.

And now, with the results of that kind of hypocrisy on display for all to see in Baltimore, it seems odd that an organization charged with mentoring young, mostly black students in Suffolk would ignore the reality of the dangers they face every day and focus instead on the political expediency of manufactured outrage over something that has a vanishingly remote chance of ever happening to them.

Perhaps Suffolk Public Schools — and its students — would benefit from a reassessment of its relationship with this organization, whose mission is clearly more about feeding a political narrative than improving the lives of its students and their community.