2016 is a leap year. It’s a leap year and on November 8, 2016 we will be electing a new President of the United States. Not only will March 1, 2016 be my birthday, it is the date of the congressional primary for the state of Tennessee. Although I will be celebrating my 45th year on earth, I must admit my memory is slipping; therefore, I will tie a string around my finger to remind myself to go vote against U.S. Representative Steve Cohen. His recent actions show that he is not the best candidate to run the 9th Congressional district.
Representative Cohen has demonstrated that he will jump on a bandwagon just so he can maintain the black vote. I remember when he lost to a 26 year-old Harold Ford, Jr. Nearly in tears, he expressed his disappointment in the Orange Mound area. He didn’t understand why they didn’t vote for him despite the “soup kitchens” that he had opened. He expressed that his defeat was a culmination of name recognition and race. Ten years later, he defeated Jake Ford. Who had name recognition and was black. Now, he’s cool with the 9th district. Since then, there have not been any credible contenders for the district. But he is waving the race flag once again. I’ve had enough.
On July 17, 2015, Officer Connor Schilling stopped a vehicle in which 19 year-old Darrius Stewart was the passenger. Officer Schilling asked him for identification as well, which is a practice that has been approved by the Supreme Court ofthe United States. A check for warrants reveal that Stewart was wanted in Iowa and Illinois. Officer Schilling detained him, WITHOUT handcuffs in his backseat while the warrants were being verified. When the warrants were verified and one of the agencies advised they would extradite him, Officer Schilling went to handcuff him. Stewart kicked his way out of the squad car in an attempt to flee. A struggle ensued. During that struggle, actions by Stewart placed Officer Schilling in fear of his life. Officer Schilling the fatally shot Stewart.
On July 22, 2015, Representative Cohen sent an eloquent letter to the United States Department of Justice, requesting their intervention. In his letter he stated:
I write to ask that the Department of Justice open an investigation into the recent shooting death of Darrius Stewart, a 19 year old African American man, by a white Memphis police officer to determine whether any federal civil rights laws were violated. While I recognize this incident is still under investigation in Tennessee and that no firm conclusions can be drawn, initial reports are deeply concerning.
His letter continues to cite reports from the Commercial Appeal, which are the same as what I previously stated. I first take
issue with the incendiary statement “a 19 year old African American man, by a white Memphis police officer to determine whether any federal civil rights laws were violated.” Why was it necessary to highlight race when it came to civil rights violations? Is impossible for a black officer to violate another black man’s rights? Need I remind Representative Cohen, that the foundation of this country’s deadly force law was laid here in Memphis, TN after a black officer shot a black teen? At the time (1974) it was legal to shoot a fleeing felon. The teen’s mother pressed the issued and it went all the way to the Supreme court where it was determined that shooting any felon was unconstitutional and was a violation of civil rights. Therefore, Representative Cohen used the race card to amplify the situation. I’m still looking for the other elements that were “deeply concerning.” He couldn’t see that white officers have to walk on eggshells when handling African Americans. Not handcuffing stewart was a courtesy. He gave him the benefit of the doubt. So the fact that everything was calm until Officer Schilling went to handcuff him wasn’t concerning. He obviously wasn’t concerned with the fact that Stewart was wanted and he wasn’t concerned that an officer was assaulted. He immediately put on his Ferguson hat and North Charleston shoes and saw this as an opportunity to get on the good side of black people in time for election.
Steven Cohen speaks of transparency, yet Stewart’s parents have not been transparent. Both knew why he was wanted. They both lied. The lie has been exposed, yet Representative Cohen maintains his push to bring the officer to justice. We should be able to see through his “concern”. In 2003, when Dr. Anthony Bowman (Jewish Cardiologist) was shot and killed by a Memphis Policeman after refusing to drop his weapon. Representative Cohen didn’t ask for the TBI or the Department of Justice to intervene. At the time he was a state senator. He did nothing. He didn’t ask for Department of Justice intervention when A Memphis Police Officer shot and killed Hernandez Dowdy. The Shelby County District Attorney cleared the officer, but the Memphis Police Department fired him for policy violations. Representative Cohen remained silent. He also looked over the fact that the Memphis Police Department took action in the best interest of the citizens.
Representative Cohen is even further reserved when it comes to his constituency. Cateria Stokes and Kristen Williams were minors and residents of the 9th Congressional District. Both were killed within 24 hours of each other. I missed any statement he released on that matter. I did not hear him speak out when an 80 year-old woman was raped on a church parking lot while she was taking her morning walk, in his district. He should be well aware of the shortage of officers in the city, yet he has not offered any solutions to get more officers on the street. Instead, he is contributing to the exodus. Every murder, every drive drive-by shooting that makes the news is probably in his district. What has he had to say about it? If had to write my answer in the form of a math problem it would be 3-3=0. Nothing will be said until the March 1, 2016 draws near. He did that in 2014 when he announced $148, 885 in federal funding for violent gang and gun crime reduction. Money well spent obviously. He lost the endorsement of the Memphis Police Association when he turned off his hearing when they asked for his assistance. He said that he doesn’t get involved in “local issues.”
The 9th congressional district is 60% African American. I am insulted with his handling of the African Americans. People need to wake up and realize that he does not have your best interest at heart and is patronizing the citizens of the 9th district. In 1996, you were terrible people that didn’t vote on the issues. You only saw color and names. Now, he finds it an honor when people tell him he’s black.
Representative Cohen, I’d like to share a quote from the movie Remember the Titans “You ain’t doin’ these kids a favor by patronizing them. You crippling them; you’re crippling them for life.” That being said, you are not doing anything for the 9th district by patronizing its citizens. You’re crippling this district, like many other appointed and elected “leaders.” You’ve shown that you don’t have a positive vision for the 9th district and it’s time you step down and allow someone with a genuine concern to take over.