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Blaming the victims for inner-city crime

August 2, 2002 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,

Recently, I helped to organize a contingent of people to participate in a rally against inner-city violence. The rally was organized by several churches throughout Oakland, Calif., where 57 people have been murdered to date this year.

About 1,500 people from three different churches in the city converged on Oakland City Hall, marching and singing songs from the civil rights era.

Unfortunately, many of the slogans of the civil rights era were not a part of this demonstration. Instead, speakers addressed the need for the community to "pick themselves up by their bootstraps."

Oakland police officers spoke to the crowd demanding that the community cooperate with the police department. And Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown--a Buddhist--told people to have "faith in Jesus" to correct this growing problem.

How cynical! The conditions in Oakland's schools are among the worst in the nation, and police brutality is one of the biggest problems for the Black community.

Many of Dr. Martin Luther King's reflections on violence and poverty would have been fitting. As King once said, "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death...The curse of poverty has no justification in our age."

Oakland's Black community faces many of the same problems King addressed throughout the 1960s. The struggle against violence in the inner city is only a part of the broader struggles for jobs, housing and against police brutality.

It is time for all people of all races to turn this anger and despair into action.

John Gallagher, Oakland, Calif.

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