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Bridgeview Brawl Proves Blacks Are Not in Step
11/13/2013 2:07:12 PM

By Barney Blakeney

I’d hoped to write a column about something more positive this week - a story about a movie I saw recently. But the actions of my people pushes me in another direction.

I recently saw the 2006 film “Bobby” written and directed by Emilio Esteves. At first I thought the movie was about the 1968 assassination of New York Senator and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, the brother of President John F. Kennedy.

However the film actually is about the lives of numerous people who were at the Ambassador Hotel where Kennedy was shot the day of the assassination.

It’s a brilliant film brilliantly written by Esteves. It’s star-studded and breaches some subjects I never expected to come from Esteves.

Particularly spellbinding for me is an exchange between a character played by Lawrence Fishburn (a chef) and Freddy Rodriguez (a busboy). Rodriguez’s character famously was photographed holding Kennedy’s head after Kennedy had been shot. His character was the catalyst for the movie.

I was blown away by the subplots in the multidimensional film that included such stars as Harry Belafonte, Nick Cannon, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Hunt, Ashton Kutcher, Lindsay Lohan, William H. Macy, Demi Moore, Martin Sheen, Christian Slater, Sharon Stone and too many others to shake a stick at.

I borrowed the DVD from the John L. Dart Library on King Street. A lot of good things are happening at that branch of the Charleston County Library system where Kim Williams-Odom recently was named head librarian.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that I’d find such a thought-provoking film at the library branch named in honor of the man who founded Burke High School over 100 years ago. I suspect there are many other hidden treasures at Dart Library.

I wanted to write about some of those treasures in this column before I heard about the ‘Bridgeview Brawl’.

I was at my usual watering hole on King Street when someone brought up the subject of the Nov. 2 melee that went viral. It seems some sisters used the social media to talk up a fight that supposedly grew out of an altercation at a nightclub.

According to reports, after trading threats and insults on Facebook, the women drew an audience in anticipation of the bra-baring spectacle. Someone said the cops stood back and allowed the ladies - and I use the term loosely - to go on and fight.

Mind you, we’re talking about Bridgeview formerly known as Bayside Manor Apartments. Murder, rape, robbery, illegal drug trafficking and gun violence have been prevalent at the 300-unit subsidized housing complex for years. August 2010 a 28-year-old man was gunned down in the breezeway of one of its buildings.

In the 12 months preceding the August daylight homicide a young woman returning home to her apartment after work was raped. A two-year-old child was among five people shot during one incident and there were several home invasions.

Bridgeview already has a bad reputation. The Bridgeview Brawl is a black eye the community didn’t need. What are my people thinking about when we participate in something as asinine as that?

A lot of things run through my mind when I think about that event: What mentality does it take to plan participation is such a thing? Knowing the propensity for violence in the community, why would a group of women who live outside that community go in there with the intention of fighting some of its residents after relaying their intentions?

Those who egged the thing on are just as bad. Reportedly, some making posts on Facebook asked the combatants to wait until they could get to the complex to view the action.

That the cops didn’t prevent the thing tells me something ugly. A lot of folks already want to believe that Black folks are no more evolved than the beasts of the fields. They see Black folks as something other than rational human beings. The Bridgeview Brawl gave them evidence and fuel for such thoughts.

That incident did much more than blemish a community struggling to gain a positive identity in a society where social and economic standing defines worth. It affirmed for many that some Black folks don’t deserve an opportunity to live among ‘decent’ people.

As Black folks in the City of Charleston struggle to maintain a place in this culturally and economically rich community which we created, we have to fix this Bidgeview Brawl thing.

We must find ways to address the mindset of our people who see plotting and participating in such ignorance as entertainment. As the cops demonstrate, some other folks are perfectly willing to sit back and allow us to destroy ourselves.

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