John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Other Travon

Posted on August 12, 2014

"TrayvonMartinHooded". Via Wikipedia.

The other Travon was the one who just got convicted of 2nd Degree murder.

He was the one who gunned down an 18-year old honors student named Markel Ross.

Travon Bennett was trying to rob him, and something went wrong.  And a kid who was on his way to school and had plans for a bright future was cut down, with only his grieving mother to wonder what could have been.

You can’t get much detail about the life of this other Travon.

We know now that he will spend most of his life in jail.  We know that he had robbed other people and that he used the same gun on Markel Ross that he had used in his other robberies.

We also know that this other Travon had confessed to a fellow inmate that he had killed Markel Ross, not realizing that his words in cell could be recorded and used against him.

The tragedy that occurred in St. Louis, the one that has inspired riots and a FBI investigation, is connected to this murder that happened 800 miles away, in the suburbs of Washington, every bit as much as it is connected to Trayvon Martin.

The everyday violence that typifies certain communities throughout the United States invites reactions and sometimes over-reactions, like what happened within Ferguson and Orlando.

A  3 year-old was murdered the other day in Landover, Maryland.  Here is how the news covered it:
Police are searching for a suspect charged with first degree murder in connection with the Sunday shooting of a 3-year-old girl in Prince George’s County.

Police responded to the 6900 block of Forest Terrace around 1:45 p.m. Sunday and found the girl, since identified as Knijah Amore Bibb of Harvard Street in Northwest D.C., suffering from gunshot wounds inside. She was taken to a local hospital where she later died from her injuries.

Investigators believe an argument outside the house escalated and that 25-year-old Davon Antwan Wallace, of the 7000 block of East Kilmer Street in Landover, fired a gun several times into the home, hitting the child. They do not think she was the intended target.

Of course she wasn’t the intended target.  Why would anyone intentionally target a three year old?  No, most of the kids who are shot, especially in Chicago, are over the age of 10.

I don’t know what happened to Michael Brown.  I doubt very seriously if a police officer gunned him in cold blood, but maybe he did.

There seems to have been a tussle between Brown and the officer in question, a gun was discharged in the police car during that tussle, and when Brown started to run away, he was shot.

I tend to take the side of the police in these instances.  Most cops I know are hard-working public servants who put their lives on the line to protect citizens from criminals.

And there is no shortage of criminals.

It happens routinely in my neighborhood.

Robberies.  Thefts.  Assaults.  It’s disconcerting.

With so many video cameras these days, you can get a pretty good idea who is doing most of the robberies.

What has happened in Ferguson is a tragedy.

And this tragedy has caused riots and looting in this tiny suburb of St. Louis.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about Ferguson:
As of the census of 2010, there were 21,203 people, 8,192 households, and 5,500 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,425.4 inhabitants per square mile (1,322.6 /km2). There were 9,105 housing units at an average density of 1,470.9 per square mile (567.9 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 29.3% White, 67.4% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.2% of the population.

There were 8,192 households of which 39.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.6% were married couples living together, 31.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 32.9% were non-families. 28.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.12.

Ferguson has had some famous residents, including baseball great Enos Slaughter and Jimmy Doolittle, the famous aviator who led a raid over Japan in the Second World War.

Ferguson is now convulsed in racial protests.  It’s only a matter of time until Al Sharpton does his MSNBC show from there.

The stores that were looted and burned down included a QuickMart and a Walmart.  Other stores weren’t looted and they happened to have posted armed guards at their entrances.

Looting and riots is one of the principle reasons Congress will never ever pass a serious gun control bill.  The American people want to have the right to defend themselves against looters, robbers and murderers.

Protecting the Second Amendment isn’t about protecting the rights of hunters.  It’s about protecting the rights of small business owners to protect their property.

I was struck by the reaction of Leonette Hilliard, who posted a note on the wall of the burned-out QuikTrip to show that she is against the looting in Ferguson.  She said that one of her former students used to work there (before it was burned down), and that was the store where she bought her Diet Dr Pepper everyday.  She was worried that it wouldn’t come back.

Her concerns seemed pretty on target.  It doesn’t seem likely that QuickTrip will be making a quick trip back to Ferguson.

Here is what the St. Louis Business Journal reported:
QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said there have been “no discussions whatsoever” about whether to rebuild. Instead, the Tulsa-based company, which had 2013 revenue of $11.2 billion, is focusing on its employees and customers, he said.

Thornbrugh said the cost of the damage had not yet been assessed, but he expects the destruction of the convenience store’s structure and merchandise will likely total seven figures.

Employees who were working at the QuikTrip Sunday night made it out safely before the store was looted and burned in the chaos that followed a peaceful vigil for Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old man who was shot dead by a police officer Saturday.

Thornbrugh said employees of the store are being offered counseling and, once they are comfortable, the opportunity to transfer to another store while the company decides whether to rebuild.

Quiktrip is leaving security of the site to the police for now. As Thornbrugh said, “With all due respect, there’s nothing left to protect.

As it turns out, looting was the last thing that the family of Michael Brown wanted to have happen.  They immediately put out a statement, asking “the community” to basically knock it off.

And they were not alone:  As reported by CBS News,
National NAACP President Cornell William Brooks implored residents to "turn your anger into action" while condemning a violent response to Brown's death.

"To sneak around under the cover of darkness, to steal, to loot, to burn down your neighborhood - this does not require courage," he said. "Courage is when you strive for justice. "

"Martin Luther King did not live and die so that we may steal and lie in the middle of the night," he added.

Jonathan Capehart wrote a compelling piece in today’s Post blog about the burdens of growing up black:
When I wrote first wrote about Martin’s killing, I said that one of the burdens of being a black male was bearing the heavy weight of other people’s suspicions... I also wrote about the lessons my mother taught me growing up. How I shouldn’t run in public, lest I arouse undue suspicion. How I most definitely should not run with anything in my hands, lest anyone think I stole something. The lesson included not talking back to the police, lest you give them a reason to take you to jail — or worse. And I was taught to never, ever leave home without identification. The reason was not only a precaution in case something happened, such as an accident, but also in case I’m stopped by police for whatever reason. To this day, whether I’m going on a run or just running to get something out of my car nearby, I never step out of my home without my driver’s license, insurance card and my Washington Post business card with my partner’s cellphone number written on it.

When you’re black and especially male — in the United States — you have to go to these seemingly overboard, extra lengths in the off-chance they might save your life.

The question today for policy makers is how do we improve this situation?  How do remove the weight of other people’s suspicions?  How do ease racial mistrust?

I wrote this a couple of years ago on the Feehery Theory:
“I think Republicans should offer what I call the three “c’s” agenda, an agenda aimed at tackling crime, taking out corruption and instilling competence to give young African-Americans a chance to compete more effectively for jobs.

The President has called for a surge for Afghanistan.  He should call for a surge for the inner city to stop the daily bloodshed that hits black America the hardest.  Everyday, the killing spree continues.  It must stop.   If it doesn’t, economic growth will never thrive.

Political corruption at the local and state level has a disparate impact on the black community.  Living in Washington D.C. and seeing the excellent work of Marion Barry as well as the unbelievable corruption that has afflicted the school union and administration, I have become convinced unless political corruption is pursued as aggressively in the African-American community as it is pursued in the rest of the country, there will be no chance for this community to keep up.

By competence, I mean the ability to do a job well.  To be competent means to have the tools to succeed in the marketplace.  But do our inner city schools teach competence, let alone excellence?  Do they train the next generation of doctors, lawyers, auto mechanics, computer technicians, and teachers?  Do our inner city schools have what it takes to get the job done?  Of course they don’t.

So I suggest an agenda to make those schools work better to teach competence.  First, get rid of the teacher’s unions for inner city schools.  Second, give the teachers the power to control their classrooms.  Third, give teachers incentives should they succeed in getting their students to succeed.  Fourth, dramatically shrink the non-teaching bureaucracy in urban school systems.  Fifth, require parents to actively participate and actively learn along with their kids. Sixth, make the kids work harder and study longer.

This agenda wouldn’t immediately make Capehart’s life any easier or better.  But in the long run, it would have an impact by targeting our most vulnerable communities.

Outside of my three “c’s” agenda, there are other things Republicans should be for.

We need to completely rethink our drug laws.  Prohibition doesn’t work.  We should stop it.

Republicans should push to update the Voting Rights Act.  Protecting people’s right to vote is an essential building block of democracy.  It’s a no brainer.

Welfare policies should incentivize marriage and fatherhood.

I don’t think gun bans work, but efforts should be made to get guns out of the hands of children and gang-bangers.

And we need to rethink our criminal justice system.  We shouldn’t put people in prison so that they can learn to be better criminals.  We should train people while they are serving time so that they can get a job when they leave.  If they have a substance abuse problem, they should prove that they are clean before they leave.

Punishment without redemption works for nobody.

In other words, we have to build a healthier society.    I am not for affirmative action, but I am for action that makes America a better place to live for all of its citizens.

We shouldn’t think only about one Trayvon without thinking about the other Travon.