I wish I wasn’t compelled to write this letter, however, I had no choice as I continue to execute my sworn duties as an elected official and community leader granted me by the people of this great city we call Mount Vernon. I am deeply saddened and troubled by the recent shootings and stabbings in our community and my heart goes out to the victims’ families. The answer to the violent crimes against one another is not adding more police, the answer is adding yourself to the equation meaning each and every one of us working together as a community for change.
I’ve never been afraid to stand or die for what is right, nor have I ever been afraid to speak truth to power, it is how I was raised. Mount Vernon’s police officers and firefighter put their lives on the line everyday for the citizens of this community and most times without anyone ever saying thank you.
Now I am calling out the most powerful leaders in our community to do their part and that’s every Pastor, Reverend, Bishop, Priest, Minister, Prophet, Prophetess or any other religious title you choose to be recognized as. I’ve seen you come out for the elections, raise funds to build bigger churches, build housing, community centers, throw block parties, host fishing trips, hold ‘Unity In The Community’ rallies and sings songs you’ve written songs and made T-shirts to ‘Unite Our City’. However, I have not seen any you out here for the recent rash of shootings and stabbings. Wherefore art thou when the community needs you the most?
You are the shepherds and you are losing your sheep everyday this violence continues. It is your duty to protect the sheep as “a good shepherd will lay down his life for his sheep.” I am not asking any of you to stand on the front-line alone, I am asking that you stand with me and all others who dare to make a difference. Fear will always be within us all, however, what makes a leader is those of us who are willing to take action despite our fears. If you are true to the words you so elegantly preach, you understand better than most that “no weapon formed against you that shall ever prosper.”
So tell me, how many tears must fall from the faces of these grieving mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, before you take notice? How many hearts and families need to be torn apart before you react? The church is supposed to be the corner-stone, the foundation, the strength and hope of a community and if the community is failing, the churches are failing. If you choose to lead as you should, the sheep shall follow the ways of the Lord. As a city councilman, community leader, father and friend, I humbly beg you all to rise up and take action. You are the Dr. King, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Marcus Garvey, Gandhi, Mother Teresa’s of our time and all of those leaders would have been on the front-line. Ask yourselves truthfully, are you doing all that you can?
If my brusqueness and delivery offends anyone, I’m sorry I am not perfect by no means and my message is not intended to discredit or hurt anyone. However, I make no apologies for my feelings, message or stance. This is a problem we all need to address including our Mayor and all elected officials. Despite the differences and issues any of us may have, I urge everyone to set aside those difference and focus on our children before it’s too late.
Councilman André Wallace