July in Chicago ended as it began: in mourning.
On Aug. 3, two days after his department released statistics that revealed the month had been one of the deadliest in the history of the city, Police Superintendent David Brown recounted the death of another child.
This time, the story was about Janari Ricks.
“Nine years old, [he] was shot and killed while doing what every child in our city should able to do without a second thought … playing with friends on a warm summer evening just outside his front door,” said Brown.
“Now, instead of planning for his future, Janari’s parents are arranging for their child’s funeral.”
His death underscores a surge in gun violence in the the United States that has been building all year.
In New York City, there have been 237 homicides in 2020 compared to 181 for the same period last year.
In Atlanta, there have been 76 homicides so far this year compared to 56 for the first seven months of 2019. Of this year’s total number of homicides, 23 were recorded in July alone.
It has been a similar story in Boston. After recording 25 homicides in the first seven months of 2019, Boston had 35 during the same period this year. And 15 of those were during July.
Just how many of the year’s victims are children is difficult to say. But every day, headlines around the country tell story after story of children dying.
In Ohio, in little more than a week: A 14-year-old boy in Columbus died on July 25 when he was shot while riding a scooter.
An infant was killed and his twin brother wounded when someone fired shots into their home on July 22.
And on Aug. 2, a 1-year-old was killed in Akron and two adults wounded.
In Philadelphia, a 7-year-old shot over the weekend during a shootout between three men in front of his home later died of his injuries. The boy was sitting on his porch when he was shot.
One of the men involved in the shooting, Christopher Linder, 27, was arrested and charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault, and now faces murder charges, the district attorney’s office said. The others involved in the shooting are not in custody.
According to Philadelphia police, the city has seen a 36 percent increase in gun violence this year. The number of people murdered through Aug. 2, 2020, was 255, a 34 percent increase, and more than the annual total for 2014, when 248 people were slain.
The Chicago Police Department reported there had been 105 homicides in July compared to 44 in the same month last year, making it the deadliest month in the city since September 1992.
Chicago had suffered 440 homicides by the end of July, compared to 290 for the same period last year.
And more and more of the victims are children.
Brown said Janari was the 38th juvenile to be fatally shot in the city this year. In all, 19 children under the age of 10 have been shot in 2020, five of them fatally.
According to a report published Aug. 3 in the Chicago Tribune, those five homicides are more than double the tally for children under 10 shot and killed in any other year in the last eight years.
Some lay blame on the open gang warfare in Chicago that seems to have increased in recent years.
Brown has said there are more than 100,000 gang members who belong to the city’s 55 known gangs which are themselves divided into some 2,500 subsets of gangs.
But recent shootings, including one outside the funeral of a gang member, underlines a terrorizing fact about the gangs: They seem more willing than ever to simply open fire in the direction of a rival without regard to anyone else.
That is what happened on the evening of July 4 when, according to prosecutors, three men in a car spotted a man they believed killed a member of their gang days before. They climbed out of the vehicle and opened fire.
One of bullets struck the intended target in the ankle, but another hit 7-year-old Natalia Wallace in the forehead and killed her as she played in front of her grandmother’s house.
“We shouldn’t have to worry about somebody pulling up to shoot, [but] it just seems like it’s becoming the new normal. A child shot dead playing in the street, just being a kid,” her father, Nathan Wallace, said. “She was just enjoying the 4th.”
The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest and prominent activist on the city’s South Side for more than 40 years, said this “new normal” involves a willingness to shoot whoever is near an intended target.
“The shootings used to be targeted, but now it is spraying at porches, parks, down the street,” he said.
“I don’t think they’re trying to kill kids but I think their attitude is, ‘I may not get you but I know those are your friends and family out there and I will get somebody you know.’”
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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