Domestic violence a growing trend

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					5A                                                                    OPINIONS/ The Charlotte Post                                                                          Thursday, February 9, 2006



Remembering                                                           Domestic violence Visioning the
Coretta King                                                          a growing trend   future for New
  “Oh, that looks so good; where did you get it?” a question
posed to me by Ms. Coretta Scott King, referring to a
bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich that I was eating as she
                                                                        This editorial, which appeared last week, is being re-published due to
                                                                      omissions created from the editing process.
                                                                                                                                                 Brooklyn
                                                                        The Super Bowl is the ultimate rivalry. Team against team. Fan
and her husband, Dr. Martin L. King Jr., entered a small
room in the back of a black restaurant in Montgomery,                 versus fan. The majority of the time the competition is friendly.          Revitalization of
Ala., in late November, 1963.                                         But hidden in many households across America, some argue that
  After directing her to the front of the restaurant where I          there is an adverse phenomenon that coincides with the game.
                                                                        Some national reports suggest that incidents of domestic vio-
                                                                                                                                                 Northwest Charlotte will
had purchased it, she proceeded to order one for herself.
                  Yes, this small point is very significant, as
                  we remember the life of this great lady, a
                                                                                        lence increase during major sporting events, espe-
                                                                                        cially on Super Bowl Sunday. A Google search
                                                                                                                                                 boost neighborhoods
                                                                                        reveals articles that claim that calls to domestic         Sir Isaac Newton once wrote, “If I have seen further
                  very “gifted,” talented, intelligent, spiritu-
                                                                                        violence shelters jump by 40 precent on Super            than other men it is because I have stood on the
                  ally committed and God-given “soul mate”
                                                                                        Bowl Sunday. However, others suggest that link-          shoulders of giants.”
                  for the greatest black leader of the 20th
                                                                                        ing the Super Bowl to domestic violence is a des-          Everyone associated with the New Brooklyn
                  century.
                                                                                        perate publicity ploy to gain attention for the prob-    Initiative Visioning plan process for the Upper West
                    And the bottom line, in this context, is
                                                                                        lem.                                                                      End (those neighborhoods bordering
                  that Coretta King was no ordinary house-
                                                                                           In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area, the statis-                         Beatties Ford Road from Oaklawn
    GYASI         wife or bystander in our old struggle for
                                                                           ERICA         tics support the theory that there is an increase                        Avenue to Sunset Road), can relate to
                 black liberation; for she was in the forefront
   FOLUKE                                                                 BRYANT         in domestic violence incidents over Super Bowl                           Newton’s sentiment.
                 of this struggle, even before marrying Dr.
                                                                                         weekend, according to Addie Rohrman with the                               The New Brooklyn ideal stems from
King, often walking-marching-meeting along with her
                                                                      CMPD Family Services Division. Rohrman is a domestic violence                               a series of planning documents going
husband in pursuit of our elusive goal of racial-social jus-
                                                                      counselor who scanned domestic violence reports for the weekends                            back nearly two decades that gave
tice.
                                                                      before the Super Bowl, Super Bowl weekend, and the weekend                                  some loose definition to what the
  As I distinctly recall that evening in late November,                                                                                           KELLY M. Beatties Ford Road corridor might
                1963, a small group, between 12 and 18 par-           after for 2004 (XXXVIII) and 2005 (XXXIX). She found a slight
                                                                                                                                                 ALEXANDER look like in a hazy future. The best
                ticipants, were conducting a strategy session         increase in conjunction with the Super Bowl. Rohrman adds that
                                                                      domestic violence calls typically increase over weekends and holi-                          and most recent of these documents,
                following a convention of the Montgomery
                                                                      days in general.                                                           the 2001 Historic West End Urban Vision Plan,
                Improvement Association-formerly the
                                                                        Whether the link between abuse and this athletic event is fact or                        focused primarily on the area from I-77
                Montgomery NAACP that had been legally
                                                                      fiction, the undeniable truth is domestic violence is an increasing                        to a few blocks north of Johnson C.
                banished in that racist-terrorist state—
                                                                      and dangerous trend. The results are deadly, and therefore, it                             Smith University. During a 2003
                where Dr. King and I had spoken to plenary
                                                                      must be addressed. Solutions will remain elusive until the “dirty                          meeting of neighborhood association
                sessions on successive days. And this strate-
                                                                      little secret” in many American homes gets a higher profile.                               leadership in City Council District 2,
                gy session was called to devise better ways
C. King                                                               According to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic                                 convened under the auspices of City
                to eradicate segregation, including obtaining
                                                                      Violence, 65 people in the state were killed as a result of domestic                       Councilman James Mitchell, those
                employment for blacks in city government,
                                                                      violence in 2005.                                                                          plans served as background for infor-
where no blacks were employed, except at the janitorial
                                                                        A 3 year old girl was drowned by her stepfather. A man took his          Mitchell        mation being presented by various city
level.
                                                                      last breath after being shot by his wife. A woman was stabbed to                           government departments. Clearly
  Moreover, as I recall, there was no black policemen or
                                                                      death by her boyfriend on an Indian reservation. The cases reveal          Charlotte was progressing into the future with
firemen employed, either in Montgomery or throughout
                                                                      no one is immune, regardless of age, race, ethnic group, or income         mixed-use developments, cutting edge transportation
most of the old South during those bygone days; for blatant
                                                                      level.                                                                     projects and rising property values; everywhere
or undisguised racism was the “order of the day” down
                                                                        Domestic disturbance calls to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police               except along the Beatties Ford Road corridor.
South and, in more “sophisticated” (disguised) manner, in
                                                                      have increased 26 percent since 2001. Sadly, victims in our area             Councilman Mitchell and I talked during the
the North or “up South.”
                                                                      struggle to find help. Last year, 258 women and children were              breaks about this problem, which seemed particular-
  To reiterate, Coretta King was a full participant in this
                                                                      turned away from the Shelter for Battered Women because there              ly acute along the Upper West End. Other conversa-
strategy session, offering ideas or suggestions like the rest
                                                                      were too few beds. Officials at the Mecklenburg County Jail call           tions followed. In 2004 the conversations crystallized
of us. Moreover, I distinctly recall that during this meeting,
                                                                      domestic abuse an epidemic.                                                into the New Brooklyn Initiative, a collaboration of
I became somewhat impatient, after perceiving that the
                                                                        Melissa Mummert counsels inmates at the facility. She says at            neighborhood groups/activists, community develop-
group had reached a consensus from these discussions, yet
                                                                      least 80 percent of the people incarcerated have either witnessed          ment corporations active in the Upper West End, reli-
the conversations continued. Therefore, I began writing,
                                                                      violence in the home, been a victim of it, or the perpetrator. Over        gious institutions and business. The first project of
on my lap under the table, a summary of this perceived
                                                                      a lifetime, the trauma is magnified.                                       the Initiative is the development of a vision plan for
consensus, later obtaining the attention of the group to
                                                                        “Sometimes it starts in childhood, add in incest, and rape… and          the Upper West End. The effort is being funded
read it. And Dr. King, among others present, nodded his
                                                                      they have never had help. Why does it take someone coming to jail          through a city matching grant and contributions from
head in strong approval of this summary, that was used as
                                                                      to get help?” Mummert asks. Jail officials developed an innovative         stakeholders. The first community meeting of this
our press release the following day.
                                                                      program requiring inmates to attend courses that raise awareness           process was held at Reeder Memorial Baptist Church
  Indeed, while Dr. King was mostly reticent during this
                                                                      about domestic violence. It includes attending group counseling            in late 2005.
meeting, he finally “opened up,” telling us of ongoing ter-
                                                                      sessions. In a recent session, female inmates shared experiences             Zoning petitions already before the Planning
rorist threats on his life, including one telephone caller
                                                                      that brought them to tears. I have changed their names in this             Commission are harbingers of change. Three hun-
who said, “Boy, we got the big one now (referring to
                                                                      article to protect their privacy. Angela cried and her hands trem-         dred ten acres located along Beatties Ford Road are
President Kennedy’s death about a week earlier) and nig-
                                                                      bled as she remembered thinking she was going to die during a              being considered for a Pedestrian Overlay District.
ger you know that you will be next.” And then-the most
                                                                      beating from her teenage son. Paula sobbed while describing how            CATS projects a street car running up Beatties Ford
memorable or spiritual of all lines - Dr. King said, “I have
                                                                      her young children repeatedly watched the abuse, and begged her            Road right through the middle of this area by 2015 or
a standard answer for all of them. It does not matter to me
                                                                      husband to stop hitting her.                                               so. Another zoning petition calls for 83 acres South of
how long I live, it is how well I live that matters.” Amen!
                                                                        An inmate who I’ll call Sheila had a different story. She’s a black      St. Paul Street to be rezoned to accommodate neigh-
  Yes, these great, profoundly spiritual words, like the
                                                                      female who is 18 years old. She described lesbian relationships            borhood business, single and multi family residential.
Cosmic Christ, are very much alive within me today.
                                                                      where she manipulated, threatened and abused her girlfriends to            A singly family (R8) petition is pending for acreage
Additionally, Coretta King also has spoken and written
                                                                      gain control. She called it “training” them. Sheila says, “Until I         south of Botany Street.
many words that should help to sustain all of us who are
                                                                      took this class, I never looked at what I was doing as domestic vio-         Change is coming. The New Brooklyn Vision Plan
committed seriously to this very protracted, often exhaust-
                                                                      lence because they are female and I am female.” The course helps           is a way for you to indicate how you see the future of
ing, struggle for racial justice in America.
                                                                      participants realize that domestic abuse can be physical, mental,          the Upper West End.
  For example, she has reminded us: “There is no problem
                                                                      emotional or even financial when the perpetrator controls a vic-             KELLY M. ALEXANDER JR. is chair, New Brooklyn
that we can’t solve if we can corral our resources behind it.
                                                                      tim’s job or money. It also teaches them how to find solutions and         Initiative and president of University Park Neighborhood
That means people, that means money, that means the
                                                                      healing.                                                                   Association.
good will and cooperation of a large segment of the people.”
And clearly, these words and many others, still ring true               Officials with the North Carolina Domestic Violence Commission
today, although it is very difficult, as usual, to find enough
people, across ethnic lines, who are sufficiently committed
                                                                      believe the jail program is innovative and effective. A commission
                                                                      representative appointed by Governor Easley plans to lobby legis-          Zoning petitions
spiritually to give of themselves to “community,” beyond              lators to expand the program statewide. So why should people
narrow self-interest or personal greed.                               who aren’t involved in abusive relationships care? The issue
                                                                      heavily influences community economics and safety.
                                                                                                                                                 already before the
  As another great lady from Alabama, Ms. Helen Keller—
physically blind, very spiritual and white—once affirmed
(paraphrasing”), “People who are willing to give of them-
                                                                        Mecklenburg County will spend approximately 2.4 million to
                                                                      help domestic violence victims in 2006. The CDC records more
                                                                                                                                                 Planning Commission
selves to others are not found in great numbers anywhere,             than 2 million claims a year in health care costs helping those
as they are preoccupied with their own self-serving inter-            affected by partner violence. Also, children exposed to domestic
                                                                      violence have increased risk for emotional and behavioral prob-
                                                                                                                                                 are harbingers of
ests.” But Ms. Keller, like Coretta King, also understood
that “many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes
true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification
                                                                      lems. These children attend schools and interact with and affect
                                                                      other children. Consultant Carol Morris offered numerous sug-
                                                                                                                                                 change. …The New
                                                                      gestions to the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners after
but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Amen, and may
the Great Spirit of our Creator continue to inspire us                a review of the county’s domestic violence service system. One rec-        Brooklyn Vision Plan
through the lives of spiritually committed women and men              ommendation is that the county should develop and promote a
everywhere in our quest for liberation, as we build the
Kingdom of God, “on earth, as in heaven.”
                                                                      “Zero Tolerance” campaign to get tough on this unacceptable social
                                                                      problem.
                                                                                                                                                 is a way for you to
                                                                        You can view the full report and proposal on the county website
  GYASI A. FOLUKE, MA, DD, a non-traditional Minister, is an
author-lecturer-consultant, part-time CEO of The Kushite Institute    listed under the commission meeting notes dated January 18,                indicate how you see
for Wholistic Development and former adjunct university instructor,   2006. If local leaders and citizens rally around this idea the same
nonprofit CEO and retired Air Force officer.                          way sports fans rally around their favorite teams, marked
                                                                      progress will be made before the next big game. And, we’ll all be
                                                                                                                                                 the future of the
                                                                      better for it.
                                                                        ERICA BRYANT is a morning anchor at WSOC-TV (channel 9).                 Upper West End.