Yael T. Abouhalkah

Mayor James, Chief Forté urge blacks to stay calm after Trayvon Martin verdict

Updated: 2013-07-16T23:26:24Z

By Yael T. Abouhalkah

The Kansas City Star

The impact of the racially divisive Trayvon Martin case is being felt in Kansas City, and it’s worrying both Mayor Sly James and Police Chief Darryl Forté.

In separate blogs, the mayor and chief are urging Kansas Citians to remain calm after the Martin verdict is reached sometime in the near future.

While they don’t say it directly, both public officials men seem to be aiming much of their message at black residents who might be extremely upset if George Zimmerman is found not guilty of any crime in the case.

Both Sly James and Darryl Forté are black, as is Martin.

James’ key comment in his blog is this:

“I believe that the common vision we have for the future of our city, regardless of age, gender, race, religion or geography, should do more to bring us together than to drive us apart. We always have room for rational debate and I do expect everyone, regardless of their opinions related to this case, to remain calm.”

Forté’s key point in his blog is this:

“I ask all members of the community to respect each other. Respect one’s right to voice an opinion, but also respect another’s right to be safe. I also ask everyone to work together to quell any disturbances that may arise. I know the Zimmerman case is an emotional topic, but we can’t let emotions bring discredit to Kansas City.”

The mayor and police chief understandably don’t want civil unrest in the black community to happen on their watch in case Zimmerman is found not guilty.

In part, I commend both James and Forté for their comments. They are civilly stated and obviously don’t take a stand on who’s guilty or not.

However, the blogs also have a “jumping the gun” feel about them, essentially saying we expect something bad to happen in Kansas City so people better be prepared to fight back against it.

While racially charged civil unrest has occurred after major incidents in this country, such as the murder of Martin Luther King in 1968, let’s hope nothing close to that occurs here or elsewhere — no matter how the Martin case turns out.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah.

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