Peashakes and the local media (bloggers included)

Dateline: Fri 09 Feb 2007

I am in a rush to get to Indy this morning, but please check out reports on both indyundercover and Advance Indiana about the Star FINALLY busting open news that A) there was a pea shake raid on the Near Westside last week B) State Sen. Glenn Howard showed up during the raid and made excuses. "It's just a pea shake...they're not hurting anybody" and C) Sen. Howard's statement was taken out of the original police report (!).

Note to readers: this is old news on the blogs. Indyundercover broke the story last week, thanks to law enforcement officers (LEOs) who have a sense of civic pride and an understanding of their jobs -- to enforce the law. The Star has been notably silent, except for RiShawn Biddle's Expresso posturing about how harmless pea shakes are. Make them all legal, he says. Fine, but they are not.

I am weary of hearing that pea shakes are the equivalent of bingo for whites. The law is the law. If smoking pot is illegal but not so bad, why are our prisons filled with guys who did pot? If the law stinks, let Sen. Howard introduce legislation to change it -- like that's going to happen. Or how's this -- let the Star editorialize for legislation to recognize the pea shakes.

The Star has been remiss in reporting on any aspect of this story in the past week, but Vic Ryckaert's Page 1 story this a.m. and Matt Tully's excellent column following pretty broke the ice. They've also proven that good reporting is still integral to the newsroom, despite the fears and qualms of the top editors.

But why the silence for a week or so, from the state's largest newspaper? Exec editor Dennis Ryerson doesn't think there is anything wrong with peashakes. They are part of "the fabric of African-American culture," is his belief. Fine. He lives at 54th and Meriidan. RiShawn reportedly lives in a safe cozy area on the Northeastside. Radio show host Amos Brown, another defender of pea shakes, does not live in the ghetto either.

Guess what, folks? It was the neighbors on Roache Street who called the cops over this pea shake because they were tired of drunks loitering and gunshots being fired. Think that goes down in church bingo parlors? And if it did, don't you think the cops should and would be called? And maybe a pastor or two would be hauled to jail?

This double standard when it comes to a black game is white hypocricy and racism at its worse. "Just let them have their little fun...they're not hurting anybody." It is condescending and insulting to anyone who is law-abiding. Guns and $5000 were taken in the Westside raid; were the guns registered? What about the campaign to get weapons off the streets?

Why do I care? I live out in the country, an hour from Indy. But if a pea shake or a meth house was my neighbor, with all the attendant activity, you can bet I'd be hollering.

Let's get back to following the law and getting politics out of the game. And yes, this is about politics, as IUPUI law prof Henry Karlson said at the tail end of the Star's story this morning. If it smells like politics, it probably is politics. This stinks to high heaven like politics: a Dem admnistration afraid to stand up to the old ghetto mafia. Time for a change, boys and girls. This attitude is not good for anyone -- the neighbors, law enforcement, the city at large.

comments: ruth@ruthholladay.com

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