MANSFIELD: Put on a Gucci

A few weeks ago I made a joke to a friend that I was going to start a new business: I would buy a bunch of bulletproof vests and have people stand outside of nightclubs in the ’hood — especially topless bars — and rent them out to patrons as they entered the establishments. Yeah, I know this is a crude form of gallows humor, but, nonetheless an accurate reflection on the times we live in.

Sadly, black folk are beginning to accept this reality of frequent gun deaths in our broader community as the new norm, since we (as well as law enforcement) are seemingly powerless to do anything about preventing the killings. The gun-toting fools are running amok in our neighborhoods and our only responses are to hold candlelight vigils at the sites of the murders and leave a bunch of balloons, teddy bears (that after the first rain look more bedraggled than sympathetic) and empty Hennessy bottles.

But hey, isn’t it the Hennessy that’s the root cause of the deaths, or is it PCP, or perhaps some other mind-bending drug? God, please let it be something these fools are putting into their systems that are driving them stone-cold mad, and not some altering of the basic DNA of these young blacks that are turning them into deranged, frothing-at-the-mouth mad dogs.

Make no mistake: This is part of the whirlwind we reap for the centuries of untrammeled racism that has produced a mindless, violent underclass. These lost souls didn’t raise themselves.

Part of the problem lies with the ownership and management of these establishments. Some of the dudes that go into the nightclub business simply aren’t streetwise and tough enough to be in the game. Take one of the recent killings, outside of a bar named “The Drink” on E. 131st Street near Harvard. For years it was owned by a good friend of mine who had legitimate street creds; he’s a for-real O.G. and no thug was going to put his life in jeopardy by cutting the fool in his spot. They knew from years of experience that he wasn’t taking no shit. He would have them wearing their ass for a hat.

But not long after he sold the bar the trouble started, and it escalated until someone was killed outside the joint a few nights ago. And it’s only going to get worse.

I don’t know the legalities of the idea, but perhaps city council should pass an ordinance that all nightclubs that are known public nuisances should be required to hire an off-duty Cleveland cop or two for security — not some rent-a-cop that no one is going to respect. If the club owner complains about the cost, basically saying they cannot afford to pay the going rate, then maybe they shouldn’t be in business.

Would such a move prevent all of the killings? No. But if patrons were screened for weapons before they entered, and a real cop was outside the club as it turned out, that would allow the crowd to disperse without someone getting shot. Maybe.

It’s worth a try, since what we are doing now certainly isn’t working. But customers could always rent my bulletproof vests — all I’d need to do is to put a Gucci logo on them and the suckers would be snapping them up like hotcakes.

I’m just trying to laugh to keep from crying; a certain segment of my race is wallowing in real degradation and pain … which is causing me to hurt also.

From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.

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