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Troy Williams: Crime a national issue that will be localized in Fayetteville City Council races

Troy Williams- Community Advisory Board

Here is the scenario: Two people — and it’s mostly men — get into a confrontation over, you know, generally something stupid, and nobody will back down. They call it protecting ones’ “street credibility.” And before you know it, somebody pulls a gun and it ends with one person going to the graveyard and the other going to jail.

Murder happens all too often across America on an hourly basis. The national murder rate is on a severe uptick without any real answers as to why. Increased violent crime has also invaded the Fayetteville community. We are currently on track to break some previous annual homicide records.

Homicide is a crime that is hard for police to prevent because it generally occurs between people who know each other. But still, the thought of record-breaking homicides in Fayetteville is causing many people to feel uneasy.

Some people point to COVID-19 as the culprit. Pandemic behavior doesn’t explain it all, although there are some bizarre instances of criminal behavior.

For example, last week, a small town in Texas made national news when two men were accused of pulling a gun on a manager of a McDonald’s restaurant over a dispute about salt on their fries. Surveillance footage showed that the pair brandished firearms towards the manager at the drive-thru during the verbal altercation. They were later charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Conversely, most alleged criminals aren’t formerly law-abiding citizens driven to crime because of the pandemic. They are using the pandemic as an opportunity to further their criminal enterprises.

America is gaining a reputation as a nation of murderers, and the rest of the world is headed in the opposite direction. It is hard to explain, and the bottom line is that it’s complicated.

Liberals almost universally say more strict gun laws are the answer, coupled with more education and jobs to reduce racial disparities and discrimination in the labor market. Conservatives counter, saying the problem with the spike in killings is tied to overzealous activism like “defund the police” movements that allow criminals to go free and lowers the morale of the police. City leaders don’t have many options, but they are the ones in charge and therefore have to own responsibility for finding solutions.

Undeniably, policing has changed considerably, and Democrats may suffer because of it at the polls this upcoming mid-term election. Republican Congressman Patrick McHenry of North Carolina recently tweeted: “Democrat-run cities across the country who cut funding for police have seen increases in crime.”

A couple of months ago, the National Fraternal Order of Police posted a graphic on social media highlighting significant increases in homicides in numerous major cities, all run by Democrats. The headline: “Skyrocketing Murder Rates!” Of course, fluctuation in crime rates is not that simple, but anything goes when it comes to politics, no matter which side of the aisle you’re on.

An organization advocating a change to the structure of the Fayetteville City Council has sent out mailers that highlight statistics related to crime.

Crime concerns part of effort to change the city council

It will be interesting how voters will respond to candidates, especially the incumbents for the Fayetteville City Council their next election cycle. Proponents for changing the council make-up from all single-member districts to a combination of at-large seats and districts are already saying crime and public safety are part of their agenda centerpieces.

Some prominent African Americans on council are trying to “nationalize” their position for maintaining all single-member districts, comparing the proposal to change the council to alleged racially discriminatory voting law changes in other states.

More: Will next Fayetteville election feature current Mayor Colvin vs. former Mayor Chavonne?

The opposing side, I suspect, will “nationalize” their perspective as well, arguing our present council members are out of touch with the community and don’t care enough about crime, acting like big-city politicians who don’t run their cities well. Supporters for changing the council makeup will also be armed with the police debacle last May when criminals looted businesses and attempted to burn down the Market House while the community was forced to stand by and do nothing but watch.

I see both strategies galvanizing support from different sides of the community. In the end, we will see which side prevails.

Troy Williams is a member of The Fayetteville Observer Community Advisory Board. He is a legal analyst and criminal defense investigator. He can be reached at

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