Making a Difference: Movement of One Community United

On Dec. 8, 2014, the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund’s Twitter account posted a series of tweets naming 76 unarmed men and women who were killed in police custody since the 1999 death of Amadou Diallo in New York.

Do you remember Amadou Diallo? He was a New York man killed in 1999 by four New York police officers while standing on the stoop of his home. They fired at him 41 times, hitting him with 19 armor-piercing bullets. He dropped in death to the porch of his home, holding only his wallet in his hand. Now Freddie Gray, unarmed and guilty only of looking the wrong way at a police officer, lost his life in Baltimore.

In this same time period, 100 police officers were also killed by assailant’s bullets, while simply doing their job of patrolling the same cities and towns of our great country.

The most recent was the killing of New York police officer Brian Moore, a 25-year-old who put his life on the line in order to protect his fellow New Yorkers and make New York a better place to live. Like so many of his brothers and sisters in uniform, Brian Moore served with selflessness and courage, and integrity. His death is no more or less a grievous loss to his family, his community and his country than that of Freddie Gray.

Folks, we have a problem of vast proportions in this most violent country on Earth and we must begin a serious effort to change it.

It needs to be noticed that Freddie Gray’s killing happened in a majority-minority city — one where the police chief, state’s attorney, and the majority of the city council are black— not in a segregated city of the South. That by no means indicates that racism was not involved in Freddie’s death. It is simply to note that the things that divide us are not so simple as to be resolved by government, no matter its racial makeup. We must change the individual “us” first. In the oft-used words of Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

There are many underlying causes of the shooting deaths of unarmed black men by police officers and it cannot be denied that racism is involved, no matter how tired my white friends say they are of hearing the charge.

It is also true that there is likely racial animosity and hatred involved in many of the shootings of white police officers by black assailants, and this may prove true in last week’s shooting of Brian Moore.

That fact does not make the issue of prejudice any less evil or abhorrent. Fear, distrust and hatred are bred in ignorance and hopelessness. We need to change the dynamic in our country, and the place to begin is in our very own neighborhoods.

The good news is that recently a group of Rome and Floyd County citizens came together to discuss the issues of racism, distrust, fear, violence, separation, deprivation – and all things which divide our people into two separate communities, one black and one white — in an effort to see if a small group of committed individuals might begin to effect change for the better.

This group of 30 came together in March through the efforts of only five people, who decided they did not want to sit by and see Rome become a city victimized by the infamy which had befallen Ferguson, Missouri, and others. They have stayed the course, have grown in number and in commitment, and are beginning to work to bring us a better community in which to live, work and play.

The group has been dubbed “Movement for One Community United.” Its members are black, white, and brown. They are not publicity-seekers or looking for credit. They are just good, ordinary people who love Rome and want to improve it for all its people.

MOCU has one focus, and that is to work to bring our communities together so that one day the two separate communities will be one — a community of only one race, the human race, living in peace and harmony together. This would be a community where the police and community are mutually respectful and where police officers are aware they are servants first, not simply enforcers.

Rick Stevenson recently pointed out to the MOCU group that the change we need will come only if we Romans will become “intentional people.” Rick explained that when making even simple decisions one should ask, “What choice can I make that will bring people together across racial and cultural lines?”

Both the speed and quality of change that comes to a community is enhanced by good people doing “intentional” acts that consider the needs of all its people.

I thought of Rick’s message when I read Charles Love’s column in Wednesday’s Rome News-Tribune. If you did not read it, get it and see what kind of asset Charles is to Rome. He is a great example of an “intentional” person, the kind of person it takes to make a difference in improving the quality of a community.

More of this is what it will take to move toward a society at peace, without the violence shown in the glare of the nightly news; good people desiring and acting to improve first their own hearts and then their communities. The MOCU group and people like them are the answer to how we change the dynamic.

The group will meet for the third time on May 21 at 6 p.m. If you would like to join with these intentional people to see if a few committed people can change our world, please send me an email and I will put you in touch with them.

Kenneth Fuller, a retired Rome attorney and former state senator, writes a regular column for the Rome News-Tribune. Readers may contact him at

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