By Marc Debbaudt
On Tuesday evening, a lovely baby was murdered in Compton. A gunman sprayed bullets into a converted garage where Autumn Johnson lived with her parents. She had just turned one. When the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived, they found one of the bullets had struck Autumn in the head. Since paramedics had not yet arrived, the Deputies decided to rush Autumn themselves to a local hospital. Unfortunately, she did not survive.
This brutal and senseless killing devastated and outraged the community, and has dominated the local news.
“This has to stop! At some point in time it got to stop,” a visibly upset Cornell Patton, who is Autumn’s great-uncle, told the Los Angeles Times. “If black lives matter, then let’s make it matter then.”
Mr. Patton’s heart-wrenching plea should be a call to action for celebrity-activists everywhere. After all, what life matters more than an innocent child? But so far we have heard nothing from the glitterati. Not one word.
As I wrote in a recent post, Beyoncé’s Super Bowl activism was misguided, celebrities have built-in bully pulpits that are always at their disposal to promote worthy causes. We just wish they would raise their voice and wield their clout in situations such as this. Where are they? Why aren’t they speaking out against the routine slaughter that is ripping apart our communities? Why aren’t they in the forefront of leading a movement of peace or an effort to end senseless violence? Instead of mindless shout-outs, why don’t they venture into violence-plagued neighborhoods and quietly or not-so-quietly contribute a few bucks for youth programs that could, just maybe, steer a kid or two away from the gang life?
But we’re not holding our breath. Protesting police shootings is armchair activism that requires little effort and lends itself to catchy slogans. It stirs up discontentment and solves no problems. It can be divisive and disruptive. No one, on the other hand, gets lost in a political controversy or is ever criticized for a sincere effort to reduce violence, improve communities or help the youth. Addressing the ingrained violence that is killing our children is a much more daunting challenge. It requires tough, unglamorous work – and is unlikely to sell many records or boost anyone’s following on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
Marc Debbaudt is President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys. The view and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ADDA, which represents nearly 1,000 Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys.