The Hutchinson Report
Devaluing a Black life: The murder of Marquis LeBlanc
Pomona is a quiet bedroom city near Los Angeles. Blacks make up less than 10% of the city’s population. Latinos make up more than 60% of the population. There are no Blacks on the city council and all the top police officials are White. Still, city officials generally pride themselves that the city is a relative haven of racial peace. Yet on the night of April 18 the city’s quiet and illusion of racial harmony was rudely jolted. Neighbors watched in horror as at least a dozen young men and women chased down on foot and then beat, kicked, stabbed and shot Marquis LeBlanc, an 18-year-old African American to death. Another dozen or so persons watched the attack and did not help LeBlanc or call police. Eyewitnesses identified the assailants as Latinos, some with suspected gang affiliations.
Though the police station was nearby, police did not arrive at the murder scene for nearly a half hour after the call went out. Police did not immediately contact LeBlanc’s parents, or ID him. They misidentified LeBlanc’s mother, Jessica Corde, on the coroner’s report. Corde claims police did not make a single call to the family to update them on the investigation, and rebuffed her many inquiries about it.
Days after the killing police claimed they found a gun that was LeBlanc’s. There were also hints that he was a gang member. Police officials have been tight lipped about the case and say that release of information will compromise the investigation. The Le Blanc murder remains unsolved.
LeBlanc’s family minces no words. To them it is a case of a police department that cares little about the murder of a young Black. The family’s charge that the Pomona police are insensitive to the murder of LeBlanc is hardly new. Countless groups have marched, picketed and screamed loudly that police do little to catch killers in serial murder cases, the murders of homeless persons and of young Black males. The common thread is that the victims are poor, poorly educated, young, Black, often female with criminal records, and with few known family members.
In times past crimes committed by Blacks against other Blacks were often ignored or lightly punished. The implicit message was that Black lives were expendable. Many studies still confirm that the punishment Blacks receive when the victim is White is far more severe than if the victim is Black. The clearance rate for murders in some poor, Black neighborhoods is far less than for murders in middle-class neighborhoods.
Police officials vehemently deny that they are any less diligent when it comes to nabbing the killers of Blacks than the killers of Whites. They blame the higher rate of unsolved murders of Blacks on higher case loads, tight budgets, limited personnel, and the refusal of witnesses to provide information. But it’s the unsolved murders of Blacks that fuel the perception that police take the loss of Black lives less seriously than that of Whites.
The blanket indictment of police for laxity in Black homicides is unfair and a slap at the officers who put in long grueling, hours trying to crack murder cases in poor minority neighborhoods. There’s also the reality that more killings do occur in big city poor neighborhoods than in the suburbs. In 2007, the Violence Policy Center reported that Black murders had hit epidemic proportions in some big cities.
The Bureau of Justice in a 2008 report on homicides found that the Black murder rate is much higher than that of Whites, or even Latinos. It's the leading cause of death among Black males age 16 to 34. Black on Black murders has fueled the nation's murder stats for a number of years. And only in the rarest of instances has it attracted more than passing mention in the national press. In Chicago, community activists, frustrated over the inability of authorities to stem the rash of murders of primary school age children, have appealed to President Obama to step in with an emergency program to help curtail the violence.
Despite the higher number Black murders than of Whites, tight police resources, and the hard work that many officers put in to solve Black homicides, it takes only one real or perceived case of police laxity when the victim is Black to stir suspicion of police racial insensitivity. Pomona for now is tragically that case.
Corde continues to plead with authorities to intensify their investigation into her son’s murder. She has appealed to the press, civil rights and victims of violence groups to prod the department to do more to catch the killers of her son. While her pleas have largely fallen on deaf ears, she is undeterred, “I’m not going to stop until the murderers are brought to justice.” That’s a message that no police official should have to be told or hear from a grieving mother no matter what the color of her murdered son.
- Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard on weekly in Los Angeles at 9:30 AM Fridays on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and live streamed nationally on ktym.com.
DISCLAIMER: The beliefs and viewpoints expressed in opinion pieces, letters to the editor, by columnists and/or contributing writers are not necessarily those of Our Weekly.
SANTA ANA (CNS) - Two Fullerton police officers were charged today in connection with the death of a schizophrenic homeless man who was left hospitalized after his violent July 5 arrest by six officers and taken off life support five days later.
Officer Manuel Ramos has been charged with second-degree murder and
involuntary manslaughter, while Officer Jay Cicinelli was charged with
involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force, according to the District
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Compton was ranked as the nation's eighth most dangerous city, but three in Orange County—Mission Viejo, Lake Forest and Irvine—ranked in the top 10 safest cities, according to a report released today.
The latest edition of City Crime Rankings is one of five annual reference works published by CQ Press that analyze and rank states and cities in various categories.
On Sept. 26, 2001, police officer Stephen Roach was acquitted of all charges in the shooting death of an unarmed 19-year-old Black man—Timothy Thomas.
The shooting occurred on April 7 in Cincinnati, Ohio, when two off-duty police officers spotted the young man walking down the street. Thomas had 14 outstanding warrants out for his arrest, 12 of them for traffic violations. The other warrants were for evading the police. After noticing the police, the young man began to run. Within minutes, 12 officers were in pursuit.
COMPTON, Calif. — A teenage girl was convicted today of two counts of first-degree murder for her role in the killings of her mother and stepfather in the family’s Compton mobile home.
Jurors deliberated for about four hours before reaching a verdict in the trial of Cynthia Alvarez, 16.
COMPTON, Calif. — A 16-year-old girl charged with murdering her mother and stepfather tearfully told a Compton jury today that she did not take part in the killings and blamed her boyfriend for them.
Cynthia Alvarez testified that she was outside her family’s Compton mobile home when she heard her mother shout her name and later heard her boyfriend, Giovanni Gallardo, call for her, the Los Angeles Times reported.
When she went back inside the home, she found her mother dead, she testified, according to The Times.