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Terry McLaughlin: Let’s make our neighborhoods safe and welcoming for all

Terry McLaughlin
Columnist

Secoria Turner, Royta De’Marco Giles, Jace Young, Natalia Wallace, Davon McNeal, Lena Nunez, Sincere Gaston.

What do all of these names have in common? All were murdered in the nine days between June 27 and July 5. And all were children. Did you know their names? Have you heard them repeated multiple times on the nightly news? Have you watched their weeping mothers, desperate in their grief?

Secoria Turner was 8 years old when she was shot in Atlanta, Georgia on the 4th of July. In Hoover, Alabama, Royta De’Marco Giles was also 8 years old when he was murdered on the 4th of July. Jace Young was only 6 years old on July 4, when he was killed in San Francisco. Natalia Wallace was 7 years old when she was shot in Chicago on the 4th of July. Davon McNeal was killed in our nation’s capital on July 4, at the age of 11. Lena Nunez was 10 years old when she was shot in Chicago on June 27. Sincere Gaston did not live to see his second birthday — he was 20 months old when shot and killed in Chicago on June 27.

And this is just the short list — there have been other children shot and killed in New York City, St. Louis, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC, and other major cities throughout the country in the last few weeks. Are the murders of these children acceptable collateral damage to those who are promoting lawlessness and the defunding or abolishment of police departments?

Sixty children younger than 17 were shot in St. Louis as of July 1, and 12 of those children died. Shootings in New York City between June 1-7 increased by 40% over the same time period in 2019 — and the number of murders increased by 160% (from 5 to 13). This past weekend, shootings in NYC increased by 600% over the same weekend in 2019.

Compared to May 2019, shootings in Chicago increased by 71% this May. Murders were up by 60% in that same time period. On May 31 alone, 48 people were shot and 18 of them died, making it the most violent day in Chicago in 60 years. In the last two weeks of June, seven children were murdered in Chicago, and there were 87 shootings during the 4th of July weekend, 17 of which resulted in deaths. Local officials say that the city of Chicago is now on pace to reach over 750 murders in 2020.

Homicides in Milwaukee jumped 95% to 82 so far this year. During the first week of June, the Los Angeles Police Department reported that homicides had increased 250% compared to the previous week.

Our media, as well as many of our elected officials and major corporations, are focused purely on symbolism — but how will removing statues or renaming military bases or cities or streets or university buildings bring back a single one of these children’s lives? And how will reducing the law enforcement presence in these communities save a single one of the children at risk of being killed in random shootings and street violence?

Despite the rise in both shootings and murders in Chicago, arrests in June dropped 55% from a year ago and street stops were down by 74%. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that much of that could be the result of police directing so much of their attention to the numerous protests in the city stemming from the death of George Floyd. That is surely part of the cause, but she didn’t mention the move to reduce the budget, manpower, or effectiveness of law enforcement, or the lack of municipal support for the police officers on the street — and she should have.

If you listen to the mothers, the fathers, the uncles, and the grandparents of these children — they are pleading for help, they are pleading for effective law enforcement and protection within their minority communities. They are begging for sanity and a stop to this senseless violence that is tearing their communities apart and ripping their children from them.

There is no question that bad cops should be removed, and prosecuted if they commit crimes. Good cops — which describes the vast majority of those who choose to go into the profession — have pledged themselves to protect the defenseless and vulnerable from the dangerous and powerful. Let them do the job they have been trained to do.

Rather than spending our energy and capital trying to tear down monuments and rewrite American history, let’s put that same energy into efforts that will actually help our communities flourish and grow.

Let’s encourage fathers to be intimately involved in their children’s lives and upbringing. Decades of statistics have proven that a father’s influence is one of the greatest indicators of success for a child — whether it be graduating from high school, avoiding drug use or gang activity, or attending college.

Let’s focus on primary education that provides all children of all races and economic backgrounds basic skills for success, and ample training in areas that can allow them the opportunity for gainful employment and prosperity.

Let’s allow all parents more choice in their children’s schools — competition almost always improves the quality and raises the outcomes. Let’s work on making and keeping our neighborhoods safe and welcoming for all.

Secoria Turner, Royta De’Marco Giles, Jace Young, Natalia Wallace, Davon McNeal, Lena Nunez, Sincere Gaston. Say their names. Remember them. These young black lives should matter to all of us.

Terry McLaughlin, who lives in Grass Valley, writes a twice monthly column for The Union. Write to her at terrymclaughlin2016@gmail.com.


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