Revolution #246, September 25, 2011

In the Wake of the Killing of Tayshana Murphy… What Will It Take to End the Plague of Violence Among the People?

On Sunday, September 11, Tayshana Murphy was shot to death in the Grant Houses, a public housing project where Tayshana lived in Harlem. She was a high school senior, a legend on the New York City basketball courts, and a nationally ranked point guard. Over a thousand people attended her funeral.

Tayshana Murphy had a basketball tattooed on her forearm. She played basketball from the time she was five, often the only girl on a court full of boys. She hoped to play professional basketball and earn enough money to move her family out of the projects.

News reports quoted friends and family saying the shooting was a result of a feud—that several men from another housing project were out to settle scores with other people, and Tayshana Murphy was mistaken for one of them.

The tragic death of a young Black woman with so much potential, someone who seemed to be on track to be one of the few who had a chance to “make it” out of the projects, has provoked widespread agonizing and searching for answers. In one online discussion, a young Black woman posted, “WE’RE LOSING OUR BABIES ...THE ONES DYING AND THE ONES COMMITTING THE MURDERS!”

New York City tabloids have railed against “violent thugs.” And this tragic death is being used to call for more police, who already storm through New York City’s oppressed communities like an occupying army.

Others are trying to understand the connections between violence among the youth, conditions of massive unemployment, fascist police stop-and-searches, and a culture of despair and desperation. Within this are voices promoting the CeaseFire model developed in Chicago—that attempts to mediate disputes to prevent violence among the people, an approach promoted in a recent documentary film titled The Interrupters. A central tenet in this approach is that stopping the violence among the people is the necessary first step to changing the larger economic and social conditions among the oppressed masses without changing the fundamental economic and political relations of society.

The article “The Plague of Violence Among the People—and the Real Solution.” (Revolution, July 31, 2011), speaks to the basic question: “How did we get into this hellish situation where parents watch young children shot down in crossfire, kids grow up haunted by nightmares of gunfire, sure they won’t make it past 18? This is a horror for the people—with a feeling of desperation that comes from knowing it’s your neighbors, cousins and friends doing this to each other. And it gives rise to a deep despair that this is an endless spiral with no way out.”

And it poses: “The violence people commit against each other is the symptom of a larger problem—but if you don’t diagnose the problem correctly and if you don’t know what caused it, then the treatment you attempt to come up with will actually make it worse.”

The article goes deeply into the root causes of the epidemic of violence among our youth—the economic, social, and ideological factors, and how they are products of a system. And the article explains how and why “There is a way out of all this today—sweeping this system aside once and for all, through revolution and bringing into being a radically different system—socialism on the road to a communist world.”

We strongly encourage readers to circulate this article in the midst of the pain and questioning going on in the wake of the killing of Tayshana Murphy, and wherever people are asking what will it take to really stop the plague of violence among the people.


Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

What Humanity Needs
From Ike to Mao and Beyond