Scott: NAACP, city needs better focus on black crime

Author: Stanley B. Chambers Jr.
Published: Updated:
Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Lee County NAACP and Fort Myers city leaders have not taken enough action to address black-on-black crime in the city, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott wrote in a News-Press editorial.

Scott’s comments, which appeared in the newspaper on Wednesday, comes after seven people were shot in four separate instances on Sept. 24. The shootings happened as city and community leaders met to address violence in the city.

All but one of the shootings occurred in the Dunbar neighborhood, a minority community that has experienced “a pronounced, predictable volume” of crime for years, Scott said.

“Large and small cities across our states mirror these facts and demographics that seem to define Dunbar and similar neighborhoods,” Scott said. “It is a sad reality that is not politically correct to discuss and one that many refuse to acknowledge.”

Scott addressed the “Black Lives Matter” movement, saying that “facts don’t matter but black lives do” and that “those lives matter far more if by chance a white law enforcement officer is involved.”

“No cop wants to be the next Darren Wilson and blaming law enforcement only serves to diminish the blanket of security these brave men and women provide,” Scott wrote, referring to the former Ferguson, Mo., police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in 2014.

Scott also addressed those who represent minority communities.

“Regrettably, community leaders, like our local NAACP president, and others like Al Sharpton at the national level, tend to obsess with Confederate flags or (General Robert E. Lee) portraits but are far less vocal on the leading cause of death among the groups they represent,” he wrote.

Lee County NAACP President James Muwakkil, who said he heard about the op-ed but has not read it, did not have an immediate comment.

In response to the recent shootings, Lee County deputies and Fort Myers police officers have started joint patrols, an initiative Scott said he suggested two years ago.

“Without expounding on my theory of why, the city did not want to move forward with the plan,” he wrote. “I think it goes without saying that although the sheriff’s office has countywide jurisdiction, implementing enhanced enforcement initiatives without total buy-in from our partners would have been ill-advised.”

Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson, who described the opinion piece as “candid,” did not elaborate on Scott’s statement, but said his support is very much appreciated.

“There’s no future in looking backwards,” he said. “We’re fully engaged at this point and we’re together politically and we’re together staff wise, with law enforcement, and we’re going to move forward and we’re gong to solve this problem. And we don’t need the National Guard to do it.”

Henderson said he is meeting with Gov. Rick Scott this week and is planning to sit down with Rep. Curt Clawson to discuss bringing additional resources to help address the area’s crime, which he said may include the FBI.

“We don’t know why it’s not fixed and we’re tired of it not being fixed,” said Henderson, who added that he plans for the first task force meeting to happen next week.

In conclusion, Scott voiced support for Fort Myers Interim Police Chief Dennis Eads, adding that he “has been cast into a tough position with uncertainty as to the future of city leadership positions.”

“We are prepared to move forward with what I hope and pray will be the support of the majority of citizens in Dunbar and beyond who are good, hard-working, honest folks who don’t deserve the scourge of violence that continues to befall them,” Scott wrote.

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