Give Me Liberty AND Give Me Death

Published on
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CommonDreams.org

Give Me Liberty AND Give Me Death

by
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr.

As you may know the D.C. Voting Rights Act has been postponed in the Congress, and will likely not be brought up in the House until late April.

The bill provides full congressional representation to the District of Columbia and an additional House seat to Utah, with wide support on the Hill. However a handful of legislators are manipulating the bill with a nonrelated amendment.

There is no excuse for Sen. John Ensign attaching an amendment to the voting act that would eliminate the city's ability to enforce necessary gun laws. The Senator may reside in the district when the Congress is in session, but he does not live in the part of the city plagued by gun violence.

When I walk the streets of Washington I do not hear cries for more guns, I hear cries of loss. I urge the Senator to meet with Kenny Barnes, who lost his son in 2001. Barnes now runs Reaching Out to Others Together, an organization that mentors young people and encourages them to steer clear of crime. If he did, Ensign would meet a man who is caring for his own community, not meddling in the affairs of others.

If he did he would realize that Washington does not demand more guns. The city marches and speaks out only to end "taxation without representation."

Even still, opinions on D.C. guns should have no place in the discussion about our city becoming an equal part of the American democracy. To try to combine two separate issues is to play politics with essential rights.

NRA members in Idaho and Oklahoma are trying to impose an ideology on an urban community that does not ask for it. As a leader of an inner-city I do not concern myself with the legal prostitution in Senator Ensign's state; I'm concerned only with the murders on my block.

So there must be no compromise, because it is immoral to compromise with snakes, too scared to bring their own cause to a vote by itself.

I encourage the sane members of Congress - a Congress I hope to soon have a say in - to keep the gun amendment out. If it does remain though, and the NRA keeps tabs on how members vote, I want to make it clear that I will be keeping tabs too. The Hip Hop Caucus may not have the funding of the NRA, but we do have a grassroots constituency.

The Caucus is up to 700,000 members in 30 states, including Nevada. And our members will flood the Capitol with phone calls, not to impose an ideology, but to look out for each other's safety and liberty. For the Hip Hop Caucus this is not only about the right to vote, for us it is life and death.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., is a minister, community activist, and one of the most influential people in Hip Hop political life. Firmly grounded in his Caribbean and Louisiana roots, Rev. Yearwood is a fierce advocate for human and civil rights in the 21st century.

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