Voter apathy can destroy communities

Voters, you have a choice. What you do with the choice is really up to you. When a dismal 10-14 percent of registered voters turn out to select party nominees or reelect incumbents, the choice you made is clear: You are Ok with the status quo and whomever is selected to make decisions about who governs, how much taxes you pay or who polices you.

By choosing not to vote you say “I am OK if my city turns into a Ferguson, Missouri, where a nearly all-white city council makes decisions for a mostly black-resident city.” You say “It’s OK that the people who make the decision to hire city staff and approve city contracts don’t know me and don’t look like me.” You say “It’s OK to shoot my teenage son and, out of disrespect, leave his body for hours in the street.”

It’s really not OK.

Black men waited a long time to exercise the right to vote. After the Civil War ended in 1865, came the 15th Amendment to the Constitution in 1870 that said all men, no matter their race, could vote. But it was an amendment with no teeth. Back then, blacks who tried to vote were told it was the wrong day, that they were at the wrong polling station or they were given illegal literacy tests. And when blacks pushed back with peaceful marches such as during the well-documented horror in Selma, Alabama, whites chased them away with batons and teargas.

It took the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to lessen the “burden” of voting. The challenges to voting still exist today, with the requirement for identification a major disadvantage to the elderly, but it’s nothing nearly like during the Civil War era.

In recent weeks, the whole world witnessed the batons and teargas reappear, this time in Ferguson. The whites hid in the city buildings built by black taxpayer money, while the blacks marched in the streets. And as usual, a black man comes in the name of peace and settles the restless.

While there is no guarantee that if you choose to vote for someone who looks like you, that that person will instigate policies to benefit you – but it is likely. You should vote for people whom you trust and people who live among you to be your voice for change.

Don’t let the blood that ran in the streets in the name of the right to choose your leaders dry up in shame.

All who can vote should exercise that constitutionally given right. Community leaders, start marching in the streets again – this time to get out the vote. It’s time to register to vote in the General Election, Nov. 4.

Go do your duty for yourself and for us all.

 Crime is crime

A spate of violence erupted in Riviera Beach on Aug. 9 and police and city officials say it’s not a representation of crime in the city. Police say three shootings that happened at three different locations on the same day were related but do not reflect a hike in crime.

Police say they know that drugs were sold at one of the shooting locations. Then why no arrests? The Black Educators Caucus of Palm Beach County is worried that the violence in the city will spill over in the schools. Policing the streets and making fast arrests may help curb crime. Citizens need to take back their city and give up the gangbangers who threaten the life experience of everyone. It’s really time to shake the image that people cannot be safe in Riviera Beach. What is the point of spending $375 million on a new marina and conference center, if people don’t feel safe enough to go there? While we understand it’s only a few people who make a ruckus in the city, they impact everyone’s livelihood.

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