2006-04-07 / Editorial/Opinion

Time To Teach The Right Lesson To Our Children

There is no doubt in our mind that Rasheem Parrish, who was shot dead by police officers last week, was a bad actor. We might even say that he was a poster boy for the violence in the black community that plagues Rockaway and impacts all of the residents of our peninsula. Parrish was recently released from prison after serving a sentence for attempted murder. His prison term obviously did not send him the message that attempted murder was not the thing to do. The 20-year-old Far Rockaway man joined three friends in holding up two other black men at gunpoint in Arverne the night before he was to die. The three allegedly told their victims that "The Edgemere Extortion Boys are back." They allegedly told the men that they would "pop them" if they did not give up all of their money. The next day, police responding to a call of "a man with a gun" at Beach 22 Street and Mott Avenue, came upon Parrish. When they went to question him, he allegedly swung at a police lieutenant and tried to run. When the lieutenant grabbed him, police say, Parrish pulled a gun and pointed it at the officer. A sergeant killed Parrish while he and the lieutenant struggled for the gun. The lieutenant suffered a broken thumb. To our mind, Parrish is a street thug of the worst sort. Given the facts, one would think that black community leaders would thank the police for getting the thug, who preyed on black residents, off the street. They did just the opposite. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and its leader, Ed Williams, called for a candlelight vigil to honor Parrish. The flyer the NAACP put out extolled him as "trying to get his life together." His family said that he was good to his grandmother. He was training to fight in the Golden Gloves. That's all well and good. That doesn't mitigate the fact that he carried a gun and preyed on his neighbors. It is time for Ed Williams and other black leaders, the black clergy and the Black community to stop treating street thugs as heroes. They have to begin speaking out against the "gangsta" ideal that is featured in hip hop and rap music. The police are not the enemy of the black community. It is black thugs who are the enemy of the black community and it is past time for black leaders to come forward and say so.

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