On September 5, 2018, Delmonte Johnson was 19 years old. As a young man who lived in Chicago on the South Side, he knew the tragedy that gun violence brings to families and to community. Delmonte wanted to make a difference. He was an active anti gun violence advocate. He was a volunteer with GoodKids MadCity. He spearheaded fundraising to give children a chance to go to camp. He was an activist and he was shot and killed on the sidewalk of a South Side street in Chicago. The deadly bullets came from a car. The car sped away leaving Delmonte a new statistic in the toll gun violence takes on our young people across America. But he is not a hash mark, he was a brother and a son. He was a bright light. We, as part of the American community, must keep his light shinning and continue his work to stop gun violence.
Friday, April 20, 2018, 17-year-old boy was shot in the ankle by a 19-year-old man. He was shot in school.
This happened on the day of a National Walkout Against Gun Violence. Students at Forest High School, Ocala, Florida were planning to walk out in protest against gun violence. Before they could participate in this peaceful statement against gun violence, shots broke out in their high school.
All reports are focused on the fact that the injury was not “life threatening”. Let us be clear a gunshot wound to the ankle can be life changing. Being shot is life changing.
This should not be acceptable.
Each one of us needs to address the culture of guns in America.
I am screaming this to you: Tuesday, January 23, 2018, two Marshall County High School students went to school and were shot dead by a fellow student with a hand gun. The students who died were Bailey Nicole Holt, 15 years old and Preston Ryan Cope, also 15 years old. Twelve other students were hit with gun fire and five of these students are in critical condition. The shooter was 15 years old.
Did you hear me. Kids were shot and killed today at school. AGAIN. AGAIN.
And the news of a high school shooting was reduced to a chyron on the TV screen.
On Thursday, December 7, 2017, Casey Marquez and Francisco Fernandez went to school. They were students at Aztec High School in Aztec, New Mexico. Casey was 17 years old. Francisco was 18 years old. They never came home from school. They were shot dead at school.
On December 6, 2017, the House passed The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. This will permit concealed carry license holders to conceal a handgun in other states.
No single legislation will prevent gun violence and no single legislation causes gun violence, but the national attitude prevents a change in the gun culture that is part of the American fabric.
The gun culture kills. Our youth are being killed at school. Our youth are being killed at concerts. Our youth are being killed at malls. Our youth are being shot and killed.
Casey and Francisco are dead. They were shot at school.
In 1987 the term road rage was coined in response to a rash of Los Angeles freeway shootings. The term shifts blame from human behavior to the road. There are about 1,200 incidents of road rage reported each year in the United States. There are about 1,200 incidents of humans inflicting harm in some way to fellow drivers reported each year in the United States. The road does not rage-a person rages-a driver rages.
On Saturday December 17, 2016, Acen King was a victim of driver rage. Acen’s grandmother, Kim King-Macon, was behind the wheel and at a stop sign when the driver of a black 2003 Chevy Impala honked the horn at her. Kim King-Macon honked back, and the driver, apparently angry that the grandmother was not moving fast enough, exited his car and opened fire on her car striking Acen who was in the back seat.
Acen was 3 years old. Acen was not killed by a road raging he was killed by a bad person who got out of his car and pointed a gun at another car and shot a bullet into that car with the intent to kill. A gun in the hands of a person kills-a road does not kill. When we, as a people, start taking direct responsibility for harm done by humans, then maybe children like Acen will not have to die.
The second weekend in June 2016 was horrible. It was horrible because on June 10, 2016, Christina Grimmie was shot to death. It was horrible because on June 11, 2016, 49 people at the Pulse Club were shot to death. Now the number of victims from gun violence will include these deaths. The new total will include the death of these 50 people. These people who died will become hash marks in the never ending death count from gun violence. But these people are not hash marks they were sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. Some were short, some were tall, some were serious some were carefree, some were men some were women. We the people of America must see each death from gun violence as individuals, as our brothers and our sisters. Only then can we see that we the people of America must make changes in our gun laws. We the people must have the courage to do the right thing. Change is slow but change only happens when there is a start. The start must happen. These victims are not hash marks, they were members of our community.
Summer is a wonderful time of the year. The sun shines, children are out of school and families spend time together. Even in a hot city summer can be joyous. Children play on the sidewalks and parents sit on the stoops talking.
But it is summer 2016 and in Chicago parents will keep children inside. In Chicago communities are filled with fear. In Chicago gun violence is up 50%.
In Chicago on May 27, 2016 the residents and community leaders rallied together to take back the streets, to make their communities safe. On May 28, 2016, the police reported, 19 people had been shot, four shot dead, including a 15-year-old girl.
The people who make up the city of Chicago are scared of summer. They are scared to walk on the sidewalks; they are scared to let their children play in the sunshine.
Does the sun shine is Chicago or only produce a glare that shields the violence?
On June 17, 2015, nine people were shot and killed in the Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, South Carolina. The victims were part of a bible study group. The victims were peaceful citizens. The victims were sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles and friends. Hate and violence should have no place in America. Is our collective memory so short that we forget the pain from each of the mass shootings? Do we just add nine more hash marks to the tally? Too many killings-too much hate-too much pain.
After is defined as during the period of time following an event. Today is the after of the violence of May 23, 2014, in the college town of Isla Vista, California. Today and tomorrow are the after of a killing spree that left six dead and thirteen hurt. Everyday will be the after for the family and friends of the six people killed. Everyday will be the after for the thirteen who suffered injuries. The after for these victims should have been happy events-celebrations, but instead the after is filled with loss. Why is our world filled with so many tragic afters?