Letters to the Editor

It’s time to stop making excuses

Robert G. Heinritz Jr.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A letter to the editor in the Wednesday, Aug. 19 edition written by Robert G. Heinritz Jr. of Highland was erroneously edited. The correct version of the letter appears below:

The BND recently published a column by Leonard Pitts that suggests his dissatisfaction with American life is based, in part, on severely misdirected priorities.

As a lawyer it would be safe to say I am generally a law-and-order type and generally pro-police. That means, among other things, when police wrongfully abuse their powers, I come down harder on them than I might with a “misguided” youth. If police step over the line, I’m on the youth’s side.

But one thing I remember from my father’s advice and example is never argue with a cop on the beat or with a judge in the courtroom. You can’t win that argument. Cooperate. Keep your mouth shut. If legally wronged, take it like a man and seek help from a lawyer or through the political process, if appropriate.

I never understood why that is such a difficult concept for some to understand.

Brutality? FBI data confirms police are six times more likely to be killed by black criminals than vice versa.

Honest police officers (and I know a few) will relate true stories of being called to settle domestic disputes or street-corner fights and as soon as they arrive, both sides turn on them, cursing, calling them vile names, spitting in their faces, resisting, reaching in their pockets for blackjacks, brass knuckles, knives and guns. I know personally of an officer who was killed like this — a good man and honest officer who had never fired his weapon in anger, and he was doing his best to preserve the peace.

Michael Brown (“Big Mike” among his friends) was a bully who strong-arm robbed a store and later made the fatal mistake of trying to grab officer Darren Wilson’s service handgun. That, by legal definition, is assault with a deadly weapon. It demonstrates a clear intent to kill. Countless officers have been killed that way.

Had I tried what Brown tried, I would have been shot too. It’s analogous to stepping in front of a speeding freight train. What did Brown expect?

Two years earlier Trayvon Martin, a younger, stronger, faster football player, tackled George Zimmerman in the dark, was on top of Zimmerman, pounding his head into the concrete — also felonious assault, which could have killed or brain damaged Zimmerman. When Martin saw Zimmerman’s gun in its now-exposed holster, he told Zimmerman that he was “going to die tonight” and reached for his victim’s pistol. If Zimmerman had not defended himself, it would have been Martin who was tried for murder.

I grieve with the mothers of Martin and Brown. Any violent death is a bad thing. The reality, as reflected by FBI and other criminal data, is the overwhelming proportion of black murder victims, as high as 95 percent in some jurisdictions, were killed by other blacks.

More than a half-century ago, in 1961, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Do you know that Negroes are 10 percent of the population of St. Louis and are responsible for 58 percent of its crime? We’ve got to face that. And we’ve got to do something about our moral standards.”

It’s no better now, according to economist Walter E. Williams: “Each year, roughly 7,000 blacks are murdered. Ninety-four percent of the time, the murderer is another black person.

“Though blacks are 13 percent of the nation’s population, they account for more than 50 percent of homicide victims. ... According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims. ... To put this violence in perspective, black fatalities during the Korean War (3,075), Vietnam War (7,243) and all wars since 1980 (about 8,200) come to about 18,500; a number that pales in comparison with black loss of life at home. Young black males had a greater chance of reaching maturity on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan than on the streets of Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, Newark and other cities. ... If it is assumed that problems that have a devastating impact on black well-being are a result of racial discrimination and a ‘legacy of slavery’ when they are not, resources spent pursuing a civil-rights strategy will yield disappointing results,” Williams said.

If Pitts truly believes “black lives matter,” it’s time to stop making excuses and as he put it, “face the larger picture.”

It’s not white, racist crackers who are getting 70 percent to 90 percent of black teenage girls pregnant out-of-wedlock, robbing stores, hijacking cars and killing each other. It’s street hoods such as Trayvon Martin and “Big Mike” Brown.

I can’t do anything about that. Black families can.

Robert G. Heinritz Jr. is a Highland attorney.