You’ve seen the photo on the front of Page One of your Clarksdale Press Register today.
It’s sad. It’s gross. Looking at it even hurts this jaded old newspaperman.
But it happened in Clarksdale and someone needs to tell you about it.
More importantly someone needs to do something about it.
I guess that someone is me.
That’s why it’s there.
Crime in Clarksdale
We wrote about crime in Clarksdale last week.
Then I headed home on Monday and saw the ambulance whiz past me and turn down Cherry Street. I’ve been a reporter for more than 25-years and I followed it.
It stopped two corners and two blocks from my house.
Approaching crime scenes requires a certain amount of etiquette. You never know the condition of the person hurt. Police get edgy when there is gunfire involved. Family can be emotional and looking to take out their grief and anger on anyone and newspaper guys are an easy target.
I always identify myself to the first lawman I bump into and ask who is in charge. I always catch that officer’s eye so he knows I am there.
There is always evidence at a crime scene and you have to watch where you step and what you touch, too.
Then you get the picture.
But it was what I saw after the photograph that touched my heart Monday.
Not in the photo
About 50-yards to the right of this photo was a family – man, woman, a teenaged boy and two younger boys – standing in what I can only guess is their yard.
I can only imagine the man was disgusted that this threat to his family had landed by chance so close to his home.
We all know what momma was thinking. This could be one of her boys in just a few short years.
Having raised four boys through their teen years, I know how hard it is to figure out what they are thinking. The teen was quiet, had his armed folded and looked at a cell phone.
The two younger ones were moving around. It seemed like just another day in the neighborhood to them.
Sadly, it was.
Take a look at the picture. Not the one on Page One -- take a look at the one of me on this page.
I’m White and I don’t think the White community realizes what is going on in Black neighborhoods right now in Clarksdale.
There are gangs in Clarksdale. There are people walking into and out of stores every day in Clarksdale and are blatantly stealing those stores blind. They then sell those items in the neighborhood. Abandoned houses are filled with drug dealers and other vermin. Gunshots can be heard just about any night. Keys had better not be left in cars and doors must always be locked. Most sleep and even watch TV with a gun nearby.
It’s easy to blame an understaffed police force. It’s easy to blame schools, the breakdown of the family and single parents who just don’t care.
And it’s easy to point out it is a black-on-black issue and hasn’t touched me.
But the day it affect tourism, the day business owners get tired of theft, or the day a factory doesn’t want to locate in Clarksdale because a city somewhere else has less crime, our eyes will be opened.
This community, specifically our churches, came together just three short years ago to help cut our homicide rate. We understand a gang taskforce once came to town and took a bite out of crime. I have been told we once had a police force that patrolled constantly and crooks knew to close up shop when the truck with the toolbox on it showed up in your neighborhood.
We urge you to support law enforcement in this community and call when you see something suspicious. We urge leaders to appoint judges and prosecutors who will get tough on crime. We urge city leaders to stop saying there is no crime in Clarksdale and look around at their community.
I moved here two years ago and implemented the policy of putting most crime on inside pages. Only the most serious crimes go on Page One. And they go there for a serious reason.
Let’s look at the photo. Let’s get tough on crime. Let’s make Clarksdale a safe place to live and work.
Floyd Ingram is Editor of your Clarksdale Press Register. He’s seeking answers to the crime problem in his community and he can be called 24/7 at 662-624-1012.