Tony Rizzo: Who will speak out for justice for black men cut down by criminals?

08/18/2014 11:02 AM

08/18/2014 11:02 AM

I am writing this column against the advice of counsel.

Never a wise idea, I know, but then nobody ever accused me of being wise.

Counsel in this case is my 15-year-old daughter.

I have come to value her opinion on matters of race because she is young and black and I am neither.

So I asked her if she thought I should write a column about the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the all of the outrage it has unleashed. Why does his death make national headlines when the constant and ongoing killing of young black men at the hands of other young black men pass with barely a murmur?

Her advice to me was no.

“Because you’re white,” was her reason.

Fair enough.

I had a couple of other column ideas to fall back on.

With new next-door neighbors, I had fodder for a column about the nature of neighborly relations, like for instance when the dog of your new next-door neighbors gets in your backyard and kills one of your chickens. Good times.

I also could have done the annual birthday column. I just turned 57 (Good God, that sounds old).

But like a one-molecule-brained mosquito drawn to a bug zapper, I feel compelled to opine on the Brown case despite my daughter’s sage warning.

Having covered crime and police and courts for many years now, I feel I have perhaps a measure of insight that gives me the authority to do so. I have looked too many black women in the eye as they grieved over their murdered sons.

And I have contact with police officers on an almost daily basis.

I have no idea about the truth of Michael Brown’s death.

But I do know that no police officer goes to work wanting to shoot somebody that day.

Some criminals do, though.

And it seems to me that they should be the object of public rage and revulsion.

The last fatal police shooting in Kansas City this year occurred in late May. Issac Sims, an Army combat veteran suffering from severe mental issues, was armed with a semi-automatic rifle when he was shot by officers. Sims was white.

Since Sims was killed, nine black men have been killed in Kansas City.

While the name of Michael Brown is on the lips of people across the country, can anyone besides family and friends or police detectives name one of those men?

Does anyone remember the names of the 15 black men killed in Kansas City this year before police killed Sims?

Every one of their deaths is as tragic and senseless as the killing of Brown.

Their families deserve justice just as much as his does.

Why aren’t we angry about that?

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to


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