least six Black children were killed during the Fourth of You Lie
weekend. They weren’t doing anything wrong, just attending a
community picnic, or going to visit a grandmother, or riding in a car
with her mom. One of the children, Secoriea Turner, 8, was an
Atlantan, and the day after the killing, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms,
emotionally addressed the killers, “You shot and killed a
baby,” she said.
random wild, wild West, shoot 'em up because you can, it has got to
stop. It has to stop.” She went on to say, “enough
is enough. You can't blame this on a police officer. You can't say
this is about criminal justice reform. This is about some people
carrying weapons who shot up a car with an 8-year-old baby in the
car. For what?"
Washington, D.C., 11-year-old Devon McNeal, ironically attending an
antiviolence cookout organized by his mother, was shot in the head by
a bullet. An 18-year old has been arrested, and there are to other
suspects. In Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco and New
York, our children are being murdered. We can get thousands to the
streets for a Black Lives Matter protest. How many can we get out for
Natalia, 7, killed in Chicago, or Jace Young, 6, the San Franciscan
who was killed attending a birthday party?
2019, 692 children (0-11) were killed or injured, up from 2014, when
603 were killed or wounded. The Gus Violence Archive,
(gunviolencearchive.org), has been counting gun deaths since 2013,
says there were 733 child deaths or injuries in 2017, the peak year
since they began collecting the data. The murdered children are never
the intended victims. Instead, somebody with more firepower than
sense, shoots into a crowd gathering, not caring who they hit. And
they’ve been killing our children.
could write dissertations about why angry and unemployed young men
are running around with guns, settling scores, and securing
reputations with no regard for others. But I’m sick of the
sociological explanations and the excuses. I’m with Mayor
Bottoms. Enough is enough.
do we stop it, though? Devon McNeal’s mother, Crystal, is an
antiviolence activist. She organized her gathering to promote the end
of violence. But she could not protect her baby boy since all the
antiviolence talk in the world can’t protect a child from a
fool who is determined to use their weapon to rob, kill, or
do we dismantle the gun culture that dominates so many of our inner
cities? Will it take new laws? Harsher penalties for illegal gun use?
As Mayor Bottoms said, this is not about the police.
are right to say we may lose fewer Black lives to police violence to
street gun violence. It doesn't matter, because of every George
Floyd, Tamir Rice, and Briana Taylor matters. To lose lives because
of police indifference, racism, and evil must be resisted, and the
Black Lives Matter Movement does that effectively. Black Lives Matter
street signs in Washington, D.C., and New York speak to that.
as we resist police brutality, structural racism, and other
inequities, we must fight the enemy within, the callous young men who
engage in gunplay on public streets when anybody could be walking by.
How to get through to them?
West once described these young men as nihilistic, believing that
life has no intrinsic value, simply not caring about social norms and
moral values. Anyone who would shoot a deadly weapon into a crowd has
no regard for human life. And perhaps one could argue that these
young men do not value human life because human life has not valued
them. But I'm sick of making excuses for sociopaths, even as I
understand the forces that created them. These shootings have to
love looking at Black children, looking at their small, partly
unformed faces, and wonder what kind of adult they will evolve into.
Too many gun-toting criminals ensure that some of our children won't
have the opportunity to grow up. Class differences among African
Americans mean that some fall asleep to the sounds of gunfire, while
others know shooting from television. When we say t takes a village
to raise a child, what happens to the villagers that would rob a
child of life?
need to call these villains out. We need to ask their associates to
call them out. Enough is enough. When you say Black Lives Matter,
when you march and chant, think of 11-year Devon McNeil, 6-year Jace
Young, eight-year 0ld Secoriea Turner, or seven-year-old Natalia
Wallace. Their Black lives matter, too. What must we do to protect