Can America really call itself free when it is still shackled to the second amendment? Six children lost their lives in one weekend.
Trigger Warning: Gun Violence
As families across the United States celebrated the Fourth of July, gun violence took the lives of at least six children, a majority of them Black. The children, aged between six and 16, were all murdered while performing everyday activities, such as riding in their mother's car or playing in the yard with their cousins. This pattern highlights not just the severity of gun violence in the country, but also how the impacts are more deeply felt in communities of color. Several Mayors from the various cities where the tragedies occurred have made statements about steps moving forward, CNN reports.
Four of the children killed over Independence Day weekend were identified. Secoriea Turner, eight, from Atlanta, was seated in a car with her mom and another adult when gunshots were fired on University Ave SW near I-75/85 on Saturday night. Someone opened fire on the vehicle just as the driver tried to pull into a parking lot on Pryor Road—the site where Rayshard Brooks was also murdered. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has since asked anyone with information regarding the shooters to come forward. She stated, "We're fighting the enemy within when we are shooting each other up in our streets. You shot and killed a baby. And it wasn't one shooter, there were at least two shooters." A $10,000 reward has also been announced.
Royta De'Marco Giles from Hoover, Alabama, also eight years old, was another one of the young victims. While walking inside the Riverchase Galleria mall, he was one of four innocent bystanders caught in a crossfire, the Hoover Police Department reported. Bessemer City Schools superintendent Dr. Autumm Jeter said in a statement to CNN, "Our hearts are simply broken at the tragic loss of Giles. We are here for the family in every way possible, and we ask that everyone lifts the mother, family, and our school community in your prayers. This is tough." Though a suspect has already been released, police have released additional surveillance images to identify other persons of interest.
In Washington, DC, 11-year-old Davon McNeal lost his life when a group of five men began shooting around 9:30 pm on Saturday night. He had jumped out of the family car to run into his aunt's house and grab a phone charger. According to his mom, she heard the gunshots and saw the young boy "duck to the ground." When she noticed he was not moving and spotted blood, she realized he had been killed. Mayor Muriel Bowser has since announced a $25,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest of those responsible for his death. She tweeted, "The public's help is dire in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the horrendous killing of 11-year old Davon McNeal."
Natalia Wallace, aged 7, was playing in the yard in an Austin neighborhood when three suspects exited a light-colored vehicle and fired shots at a group gathered outside a home on 100 Block of North Latrobe Ave. She was transported to the hospital where she succumbed to a shot in the head. Natalia's father, Nathan Wallace, affirmed, "Kids outside playing, they shouldn't have to worry about guns and people shooting." Another 14-year-old in Chicago also lost their life to gun violence on the same night. "Tonight a seven-year-old in Austin joined a list of teenagers and children whose hopes and dreams were ended by the barrel of a gun," Mayor Lori Lightfoot stated in a tweet. "As a city we must wrap our arms around our youth so they understand there's a future for them that isn't wrapped up in gun violence."
Finally (and it is despicable that we must use a word like "finally" to get through a list of children murdered by senseless gun violence), a six-year-old boy from Bayview, San Francisco, was discovered suffering from a gunshot wound after police received a call for a shooting at about 10:44 pm on Saturday night. Chief of Police William Scott said in a press release, "Violence like this that could so tragically claim the life of a small child is unacceptable in our City, and the San Francisco Police Department stands with the Bayview Hunter's Point community in its determination to bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice." If this is not evidence enough that the United States has a gun problem, perhaps Congress will never have a conscience.