Letter: Racial reconciliation costly feel-good program

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 13, 2015

Dear Editor,

Three words: I KNEW IT, I KNEW IT, I KNEW IT. When I read your article “Locals seek to bridge racial divide” and seen the “former county commissioner” Ricky Wolfe had been out of town again, I asked myself at that time, what is this going to cost the citizens of Troup County?

Let us not forget his trip to Albany with a plan to end poverty in Troup County with a tag of $140,000 dollars. I believe that was back in April 2012, at that time we were told that the poverty rate in Troup County was 22 percent, well here we are in June 2015, thousands of dollars later, and the poverty rate in Troup County – using the same statistics today as were used then – is now 23.6 percent.

So, I ask, how well is that working? And when are we going to abort this program, or better yet, turn it over to the churches where good deeds go untold?

That is all I’m going to say about that. Now he wants the citizens of Troup County to fork over to another one of his feel-good programs, $150,000 for a start – and I’ll bet he and Mr. Carl Von Epps will be on the board of directors.

First, let me say I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, in the ’60s and in the early ’70s was in the military overseas, so if someone knows racial tensions, I have seen it. I have witnessed firsthand the racial divide slowly shrink. But before we stir the pot again with some off-the-wall program the “former commission chairman” Ricky Wolfe and former state representative Carl Von Epps want to start up in Troup County, let me remind the two individuals they are “former” for a reason.

Let us look first to a few other factors in everyday life before we listen to Ricky Wolfe’s and Carl Von Epps’s rhetoric after attending an Al Sharpton seminar on race in America. Let us put aside also the rhetoric that is coming out of Washington, where the man in the White House has done nothing but try to divide this nation since he hit the Oval Office.

I don’t know which LaGrange they live in, but in the LaGrange I live, where the citizens I’m surrounded by – the working people – really seem to get along swell. Now that’s just me.

There may be something I missed, but I think the days of being judged by what side of the tracks you live are basically behind us as a whole. And might I say, and not trying to be funny, but have you noticed the interracial couples today – a lot more than in the ’60s, so that tells me people from both sides of the tracks are mingling.

Years ago I had the honor of attending Grandparents Day at Long Cane Elementary School with one of my little buddies; while waiting on lunch time, I watched the little people playing on the playground – black and white, both having a big old time. For which I asked myself and others at what age and where does the divide begin.

Let me make a small suggestion to the LaGrange City Council – don’t get suckered into this, sure no one wants racial tensions, don’t get caught up in the guilt trip.

I would strongly suggest you pay more attention to Mr. Lou Dekmar, LaGrange public safety chief and the hourlong meeting you had with him addressing the serious gang problem he is trying to resolve. Not hardly a day goes by that you don’t read about someone getting shot or stabbed, and over what – a few dollars and a cell phone, people having their doors kicked in for a Playstation game, or worst yet, a group of thugs beating an elderly person for their money. I don’t care what color your skin is, that ain’t right.

You read where the DA in this area has more cases than he and his staff can get to, so we know little cases – crimes – are being passed over.

Back in May, a gang member was sent to prison for life because he wanted the murdered victim’s car and money. The 20 year old, from the detective’s report, had a record since he was 13.

There is no such thing as a small crime; is it the system’s fault that one life was lost, and now the other is now serving life? Let me call it like it is, number 1: in today’s world it is mostly about self, so let us change the wording from racial to “me;” number 2: in LaGrange there is that 3-mile square area that contributes to 90 percent of the crimes in LaGrange.

Most of the citizens in LaGrange are hard-working, honest people. So instead of forking over $150,000 so Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Von Epps can keep their names in the news and feel their authority, grant that money to the safety of the citizens of LaGrange.

Maybe – and this is just a thought – at the corner of Whitesville Street and Butler Street sits the old Henson’s Restaurant; Mr. Mallory has a for sale or rent sign on it. Maybe Chief Dekmar can set it up as a precinct to hold younger kids until their parents show up to get them, or till they come to pick them up to take to Sam Walker Drive.

I don’t have the answer to the problem, but I can’t see restirring the same old pot like they have on “The War on Poverty.”

And for my final suggestion – Mr. Wolfe, stay home. Let the churches do their part on teaching love and tolerance, and that there is a greater force than “self.”

Mike Moses