You know things are interesting in McComb City Hall when the board of selectmen dismisses its highest-ranking employee, the city administrator, but it’s not even the top story from that evening’s meeting.
The city board is getting far more attention, both positive and negative, for its decision to change the name of Pearl River Avenue in East McComb to Black Lives Matter Avenue.
Pearl River residents may not like the address change hassle this will create, but the board has the right to make the decision. However, there are some things worth pointing out.
First, during a peaceful March for Racial Healing in McComb a couple of weeks ago, several speakers — including at least three selectmen — pledged to be part of the solution, to stop pointing fingers, and to start the healing that McComb needs. Renaming Pearl River Avenue fails all three of those tests. It is a symbolic change instead of a substantial one, and it is guaranteed to create more division.
Secondly, crime reports from the past two weeks have reinforced the fact that in McComb, police officers are not the ones assaulting black people. And thank God for that: No one of any skin color should have to fear law enforcement.
Instead, black residents of McComb are far more at risk of injury or death at the hands of other black people. A 25-year-old man was killed in an apparent drive-by shooting outside a lounge on June 13, and this past Sunday, a 20-year-old man driving a car died when a back seat passenger’s gun fired.
For the record, black lives do matter. And it may be that McComb is a fortunate exception to the trend of young black men in other cities being killed or harassed by police officers. But Pearl River’s new name is making a statement about a problem McComb does not have. This is therefore questionable public policy.