The Investigators: Race Against Crime

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The problem is undeniable and as easily describable: black on black crime.

Blacks are less than half of the population of East Baton Rouge parish, but last year they were involved in 83 percent of the murders.

Police will tell you some days they're the perpetrators and some days the victim.

"Could you imagine what it would be like if Dr. King came back and seen us in this condition," asked Arthur "Silky Slim" Reed, a former gangbanger in Baton Rouge.

Silky Slim spent years being a part of the problem. But for the last several years, he has tried to be a part of the solution.

He points to certain blacks whom he calls hypocrites, saying they are quick to make a push for justice when a white police officer kills a young black man, but nearly silent when young black men kill each other.

"We have a sickness in ourselves where we can see each other and kill ourselves and we have to deal with that sickness first," Silky Slim said.

"I'd look like a fool going up to the Department of Justice saying, 'I demand justice!' because that was a white officer that killed a black and if they pull the statistics- what are they going to say? 'Well- there was 6,000 of y'all that killed each other last year and I didn't see your face at all?' So I put my face in the streets where they will understand that this is a problem to me."

Prosecutor Tony Clayton witnesses the crumbling of parts of the black community up close. Over his career, he's help put a great deal of black people on death row, far many more than white people or anyone else.

"We have a serious cancer in our community and only we can radiate it," Clayton said. "We have to address it from the black community."

Clayton estimates 99 percent of the defendants he prosecutes are black and also estimates 99 percent of the victims are black too.

After a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri there were protests, marches, riots and rallies- even a rally right here in Baton Rouge on the campus of Southern University.

But so far this year alone there have been 51 black people murdered and records show most of them are alleged to have been killed by other black people.

Silky Slim and others ask, where's the outrage on that?

"That's a hypocrite! So we're in a world where there are many hypocrites that take opportunity and go out there and show their faces for the cameras, 'oh it's an injustice' because its somebody of a different race that have killed the individual, but you'll watch us kill each other every day," Silky Slim asked.

"That's something that black folks don't like to talk about. That's something that they will say, 'we don't need to talk about that right now, let's focus on getting justice for this'. And if we keep focusing on getting justice for that- we'll never ever solve this over here."

At the Parish Prison in Baton Rouge Tony "Victory" Wyatt runs a prison ministry. Victory was once in the same prison for selling drugs.

Seven years ago, he gave his life to Christ and has been preaching and making Christian music ever since.

"You got people in north Baton Rouge that don't even know how it looks over on Siegen [Lane] and over on Perkins Rowe. They don't even know how it looks because their mind is so shackled to their neighborhood. They are in an eight-block radius. They don't even know anything outside of that," Victory said.

While Victory and Silky Slim find a solution in religion or a relationship with God, Clayton says another solution can be found in education.

"If you educate me as a young African American, then you're not going to see me in the court system- it's a direct correlation,"Clayton said. "I can't recall prosecuting anyone with a college degree for murder."

Clayton says the problem starts in the home.

"It wasn't until the advent of the 60s and 70s and all these welfare programs came in- these entitlement programs- that you started to see a detachment of sorts of the black family," he said.

Sliky Slim says he is working in the streets now to stop black genocide.

"You have to love each other regardless of the conditions that you're in and you have to live with each other or else they'll be a college professor somewhere saying, 'once upon a time there were black people and this is how they looked, but they came into a civil war with themselves and killed each other…' Because this is what's actually going on in the black community-- it's a civil war. We don't address it as such. We use the words that you used, 'black on black crime.' It's a civil war because they have taken arms against themselves and they are actually killing themselves out," Silky Slim said.

Victory says he will keep preaching and proving people can change.

"Even though we find ourselves in these situations where its poverty here and broken homes here, there is hope,” he said. "You have to change your mindset first and that's why I say the people of God have to come together and do more."

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