This op-ed column reflects the opinions of its author, Rod Demery.
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The Shreveport mayoral race must be won by a passionate and sincere candidate. As I continue, daily, to read the dismissive news, I realize that the only hope is new leadership. It’s actually quite simple; our city, not unlike most American cities, is deteriorating as a result of incompetent leadership.
Somewhere along the incredibly bumpy, yet restorative road from the civil rights era, our country made a horribly wrong turn. Most whites believed, with blacks, that our country had put a horrific past behind us. The sad truth is that we created a downward trend solely based on the ghost of our past and the very people who were disenfranchised began a sort of “self-disenfranchisement.”
Shreveport has a real problem. The level of denial blows my mind. I speak with families who have lost their children, husbands, wives and friends to murder more often than I’d like to. When did heartbreak, pain and death become a periphery? The priority changed. It became more important for white people to dodge the label of being called a racist than maintaining their conviction in calling incompetence, incompetent. Black fear of a mythical white enemy and failed black leadership upstaged compassion and sharing our neighbor’s grief.
The truth is the very same skin-color discrimination black people deplored became the standard for selecting leadership. An abandonment of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s prophetic judgment of content of character instead of color of skin is abandoned by the ridiculous notion that any candidate’s skin color uniquely qualified him or her to serve our city.
Well, sadly few “white people” occupied any part of Shreveport’s criminal justice leadership and city administration for the past decade, and black people are just as disenfranchised as during the era of Jim Crow and certainly are just as terrified of violence that is overwhelmingly exclusive to them. Black children are dying, under-educated and unemployed. The prison system is overwhelmingly black, and funeral business is becoming increasingly more lucrative by the dollars of broken-hearted black mothers.
The precious security we should enjoy as a reverent right has been mixed in this gumbo of Colin Kaepernick, Confederate statues and pointless socio-racial debates, where neither hearts nor minds can accurately be represented.
This mayoral race is gravely important. Selecting a new mayor will require a true will and courage of the people. All people. We must remove those in office who are both directly and indirectly responsible for the miserable leadership collapse that has morphed into hundreds of murders where the comfort of a mother has been replaced by the rhetoric of “the killers know each other” and “the community won’t talk to us.”
The city must unify. Now more than ever we must abandon superficial deciders, such as race, and elect one who is passionate about life. Crime has and should dwarf any other issue. Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs is accurate when personal safety is described as the most important of basic human needs, and the civil rights era should have taught us that personal safety is the basic right of any human being.
Despite popular belief of otherwise, Shreveport is but one people. Good government begins with honesty, an abandonment of selfish desires and sacrificing for the greater good. Let’s challenge each other and correct each other where we are falling short. Scripture tells us that the rebuke of a friend is a good thing.
We’ve come a long way from school segregation and Dr. King’s dream has afforded black children the opportunity to matriculate at fine institutions like West Point and Harvard University, and certainly Lee O. Savage’s white skin says nothing of his passion and character of heart.
I endorse Lee because his passion, empathy and character are sincere. I told him of grieving mothers — he called them. I’m with Savage.
Rod Demery is a retired Shreveport Police Department homicide detective.
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