Media Blackout: Letter from a Black Man in Baton Rouge

Leslie Parms, with the Nation of Islam, talks to a small crowd outside the Triple S Food Mart where Alton Sterling was killed, July 11, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sterling was shot by a police officer in front of the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge on July …
Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

I’ve been in Baton Rouge for a week now, watching the international media cover the aftermath of the Alton Sterling shooting with the predictably dismal set of left-wing talking points.

While the MSM wants to pitch Baton Rouge as an example of racist America, when I talk to the residents of Baton Rouge—some white but mostly black—I’ve gotten a different story; one that’s more complex than the simple paint-by-numbers Democrat narrative that the media is shoving down America’s throat.

After my recent arrest, I got some mentions in the local press which led to my getting this email:

Hey, just discovered your twitter feed and that you’re in Baton Rouge. Just read your weekend in parish prison piece. I’m seeing all the media reports and I’m so mad that the people aren’t being asked the right things. Are you open to hearing from who’s black and from Baton Rouge area?

Of course, I was interested, and I responded right away. Just as the callers on the Breitbart News Daily radio show on SiriusXM Satellite Radio provide better analysis than the inside-the-beltway pundits, I wanted to share this man’s personal insights into what’s going on in Baton Rouge:

Wow, thanks for responding! I’m a lifelong resident of Zachary, a Baton Rouge suburb, and a black man. 

I don’t believe Alton Sterling was killed because of racism. Baton Rouge is poor. They use police and arrest as a means of filling budget shortfalls. Everyone knows cops have a directive from the mayor that when a call comes in, make an arrest no matter what, because an arrest equals money for the city. Those cops were going to arrest him no matter what. Dispatch informing them a gun was used let them know how much force was necessary. Alton, a convicted felon illegally possessing a gun wasn’t going to comply no matter what, as he knew he was about to go to jail for a long time. Those forces created a tornado, simple as that. 

The problem nobody is talking about: Baton Rouge is dealing with black working middle class flight.

Twenty years ago black neighborhoods were filled with black nuclear traditional families, headed by a working father and in most cases a working mother. These neighborhoods had dangerous elements—which unfortunately stereotyped the whole based on the few—but socially, economically, and as taxpayers, it created stability. Neighborhoods filled with working fathers kept it together. The black dollar supported jobs and businesses and that taxpayer based allowed for local services to be provided by the government.

All of that is gone. 

Almost every black person in the last ten years with an education, job or professional certification LEFT those neighborhoods, ironically because of some policies by George W. Bush, but that’s another conversation.

Go on a tour of neighborhoods like Glen Oaks, or Fairfields, or McKinley, I dare you to find a working married couple. You won’t. These neighborhoods are filled with people— more poor whites and Mexicans but still 80 % black) that are the following: single mothers on welfare, ex-cons, drug dealers and users, and old people who can’t afford to move. That congruence of factors creates the following: a great swath of individuals who dependent on government services while not paying taxes. 

I live in Zachary. Recently we were voted one of the top ten places in America to raise a family. Since becoming an independent school district from Baton Rouge, we have been the #1 school district in the state every year. We are a family and faith oriented community that is roughly 45% black.

I engage the police every day and 100% of those engagements are positive. They are positive because Zachary has money and doesn’t have to arrest people for stats and revenue. As such, the mandate given to them by our mayor, council and city leaders is to value our kids, even one who is goofing off or doing criminal acts that kids do. We want productive students, not children in jail. A kid was recently arrested at our High School and it was the SCHOOL who bailed him out.

We value kids and so we value parents. The value of a parent who may be caught doing something stupid like driving tipsy isn’t in tickets, arrests or confiscating his car; it’s him being alive to go to work, take care of his kids and being productive in the long run. 

That’s the difference in policing; the Baton Rouge police in black neighborhoods aren’t community-based police. I NEVER see police when I go to Baton Rouge.

On the other hand, the decent and rich neighborhoods of Baton Rouge have residents who fully engaged in the local government, either through their council or back channels. They are like my town of Zachary, where we demand a different and more appropriate policing strategy. Police aren’t needed until or unless a violent crime happens.

The poor, majority black areas have vastly disproportionately numbers of 911 calls. Factor in no government engagement to properly shape policy and we sadly have situations like the Alton Sterling shooting. 

No one is moving back to Baton Rouge. Go and take a look at the major thoroughfares during rush hour. The big employers of Baton Rouge don’t live in Baton Rouge, and neither do their workers. The people who run the city don’t live in Baton Rouge. 

Talk to the black people here. We are all in agreement as to the real problem. We want our kids to go to great schools, we love our great jobs, and our mixed neighborhoods are awesome. We don’t want to go backwards or have unnecessary strife or meaningless marches and protests.

By the way, I have multiple sources in the Baton Rouge Police are tell me they are LAUGHING at those protests because of the overtime money they are making.

I fear the worst is yet to come. The problem always has been complete and total mismanagement by the city, including corruption, negligence, politics, and nepotism. The wake up call should have been when Zachary and Central won ballot initiatives to LEAVE the East Baton Rouge Parish school system and become independent. Baton Rouge easily lost a massive amount of yearly funding while Zachary just passed a balanced budget for a district MAYBE of 3,000 kids.

Other residents see this and the push is on to break away from Baton Rouge. There’s a new petition about St George going around that would create a new city that would encompass the taxpaying half of the city. Before all these protests, most people were indifferent about St George. Now? It’s all but over and done.

Baton Rouge will be will effectively be an American shantytown. 

I just wish the media would ask more people people the right questions because once the media leave and it’s the people here who will have to live with this.

And the results will be terrifying. 


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