America is a nation divided, and the consequences have been tragic.
Omaha police officer Kerrie Orozco, who was just 29 years old, was killed in the line of duty on Wednesday, just one day before beginning maternity leave. Her death followed 13 other police officers killed in the line of duty in 2015. Meanwhile, the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice and Walter Scott have been front page news this year as well.
As protests and riots have sparked from Ferguson to New York and Baltimore, it’s clear that both sides are angry. But some people want to help bridge that divide.
IJReview talked to a former gang leader and high ranking Crip who now dedicates his life to helping bring change to the black community. Here’s what 44-year-old Arthur Reed, a.k.a Silky Slim, told IJR:
He elaborated on the execution-style killings of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos:
“The way that I look at it, you take the two officers in New York. I was heart-broken because I knew for sure that these officers had nothing to do with the killing of Eric Garner. You can’t generally be anti-police, because if you become completely anti-police, then criminals are going to take over. When we see these killings, the general thought here is that two wrongs don’t make a right.
But the thing is you see the incident in South Carolina, when a cop chased a unarmed guy and shot him down in cold blood seven times. The biggest question to be asked now is, do two of your rights make a wrong in my life? What you have is individuals who have been seeking justice everywhere, and haven’t been able to find it anywhere.
So, now they seek to find justice from their own hands because they had been denied justice for so long. Even though they’re upset, the killing of police officers is in no way justified.”
Then he offered his insight into Baltimore and the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement:
“I wasn’t surprised about what happened in Baltimore, because of what we had seen in Ferguson.
I don’t believe in rioting and all, but I know peaceful protesters are very hard to be seen.
What I see with Baltimore, Ferguson and other mass protests is what has been given birth is the Black Lives Matter movement. My insight on that is the black lives do matter but it must matter to black people first. If it doesn’t matter to black people, why should it matter to anyone else?”
Finally, he spoke out against targeting police officers:
“Also, police lives matter. We have to maintain law and order. Without the presence of the police, we would be lost. We would destroy ourselves without them.
So I definitely see a value in them. But we need to clean up both the communities and the police force.”
Slim is the former leader of Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s Southside Wrecking Crew and a ex-high-ranking Crip. After spending 22 years in gangs, he made a dramatic change in his life and now dedicates his time to stopping street violence with his non-profit organization, Stop The Killing Inc.
Since Stop the Killing’s inception, they’ve been able to reach out to tens of thousands of at-risk-youth.