Children ranging from ages 6 to 14 became victims of these shootings. Civil rights leader believes racism is one of the root causes.
Trigger Warning: The story contains incidences of racial violence as well
Gun violence has been a long-standing issue in the United States. Though thousands of such heartbreaking incidents occur every year, no serious actions have been taken to put a full stop to it.
According to CNN, the holiday weekend saw numerous shooting across the country and many of those who lost their lives were innocent children. These children were out with their family enjoying their 4th of July, unaware of the danger that awaited them.
Children ranging from ages 6 to 14 were killed in the deadly shootings. Eight-year-old Secoriea Turner from Atlanta was shot when she was in the car along with her mother and another adult. The incident was shocking even to the officials.
"You shot and killed a baby. And it wasn't one shooter, there was at least two shooters," said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, according to CNN. She even announced a $10,000 reward to anyone who came forward with information on the shooting. "Our hearts absolutely break for this precious life senselessly taken," wrote Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, alluding to the incident.
Another 8-year-old, Royta De'Marco Giles was caught in a crossfire inside the Riverchase Galleria mall, where groups of men opened fire. "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," stated the superintendent of Giles' school, Dr. Autumm Jeter, according to CNN.
13 people shot, 4 of them dead: New Orleans' July 4th weekend marred by gun violence https://t.co/TMbuuqEmMo— #IAMDOAS DESCENDANT OF AMERICAN SLAVES (@iamDOAS) July 7, 2020
More homicides were reported such as the death of 11-year-old Davon McNeal. The young boy visiting family in Southeast Washington was shot dead while he rushed out of the car to go into his aunt's house for a phone charger.
However, his mother did not realize her son was long gone when she saw him on the ground. She thought he was on the ground in an attempt to dodge the bullet. In a matter of seconds, she noticed blood and realized her little son was no more.
"She saw he was hit in the head. His mom was just crying, 'My baby! They took my baby!'" said John Ayala, the child's grandfather and an activist against gun violence.
Assuming July 4th generally has a high level of incidents due to all the boozing but this is still worrying. https://t.co/nsIAWgq10W— Danny Gold (@DGisSERIOUS) July 5, 2020
Another innocent child, Natalia Wallace was just playing in the yard in Chicago's Austin neighborhood when she was shot in the head. She was killed by three suspects, who opened fire at a group gathered outside a house 100 block of North Latrobe Ave.
Though she was transported to Stroger Hospital, her life could not be saved. Heartbroken by the loss of their child, her father, Nathan Wallace said, "Kids outside playing, they shouldn't have to worry about guns and people shooting," according to ABC News.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot implored for information on Natalia's death and said, "Tonight a 7-year-old in Austin joined a list of teenagers and children whose hopes and dreams were ended by the barrel of a gun. 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," according to CNN.
Speaking of the incident, Chief Fred Waller got emotional. He said, "Chicago. Austin. You got to be tired of this. Chicago's heart gets broken again. Austin's heart gets broken again. You got to be tired of this, because d*** it, I'm tired of this."
According to The Guardian, Chicago saw one of the bloodiest holiday weekends in recent times. 17 people including 7-year-old Natalia and a 14-year-old boy were killed. About 63 people were wounded in the deadly shootings. Though the authorities deployed an additional 1,200 officers on the street, they could not stop the epidemic of gun violence.
Family of 11-year-old boy shot to death in D.C. on 4th of July calls for end to gun violence https://t.co/RwZNmq5Spq— MSN (@MSN) July 7, 2020
Meanwhile, the victims of these shootings did not just include children. The weekend saw at least 44 shooting incidents in New York alone. Civilians and officers both were among the victims.
At least 160 were killed and more than 500 were injured across the country during the Fourth of July weekend. The Trace, a non-profit news website covering gun violence in the US linked the rise in violence to the surge in gun-buying during the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, Rev Gregory Livingston, a pastor, and civil rights leader blamed racism for fuelling the breakouts in communities. “Chicago is, woefully, a tale of two cities and across the country it’s a tale of two Americas. Chicago is a very segregated city and that legacy is part of what’s fueling this horrific violence,” said Livingston to The Guardian.
He stated that the pandemic widened the economic gap and claimed that the Black Americans were badly hit by the crisis. Mayor Lori Lightfoot supported Livingston and said "under-investment were at the root" of the violence.
Despite an additional 1,200 officers on the streets and pleas from community groups, Chicago's July 4th holiday marked the third straight weekend children became victims of gun violence. https://t.co/pTAbjXtzt0— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) July 6, 2020
It is high time that these incidents motivate the authorities to bring stricter gun laws. Not only will it protect the lives of people but it will also allow our children to live "normally" without fearing death while they are at school or at a candy store.