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.
5/18/18 is the day of another school shooting. Eight students and two teachers did not return home from Santa Fe High School because they were shot dead while at school. I ask America what are we going to do about the killing of our youth. Youth are gunned down in schools and on our city streets. The youth of America is the future of America. We adults are failing our youth by not making strict laws, by not rethinking the #2A. When will we start to stop the blood shed? No child should fear being shot- this is America. And shame on us – this is the America where children fear being shot.
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?