Black marchers see gun vi­o­lence dif­fer­ently

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By ALEXA SPENCER Howard Univer­sity News Ser­vice

WASH­ING­TON -- Adia Granger knows gun vi­o­lence in­ti­mately. The 16-year-old lives in Bal­ti­more, the city with the high­est mur­der rate of any ma­jor city in Amer­ica.

Of the 343 peo­ple killed in Bal­ti­more last year, 295 died by gun­fire, more than New York City or Los An­ge­les, cities with more than 10 times Bal­ti­more’s pop­u­la­tion. Gun-re­lated deaths ac­counted for 88 per­cent of the city’s homi­cides.

Many of the vic­tims were young. Markel Scott, 19, shot six times. Steven Jack­son, 18, shot in the head. Shaquan Ray­mone Trusty, 16, shot mul­ti­ple times in the up­per body. Tyrese Davis, 15, and Jef­frey Quick, 15, shot in same neigh­bor­hood within blocks of one an­other.

Adia’s own cousin was shot while walk­ing home from work. Like her cousin, most all of them vic­tims were black.

Their deaths were the rea­son she and a group of class­mates from Western High School were among the more than 800,000 who ral­lied in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal to de­mand more ac­tion to deal with gun vi­o­lence.

“I came here to rep­re­sent Bal­ti­more,” Adia said.

Adia was among sev­eral bus loads of stu­dents sent to the march by Bal­ti­more Mayor Cather­ine Pugh. For them, gun vi­o­lence is not new. It is a long­stand­ing is­sue.

Adia, a high school ju­nior, joined the na­tional move­ment for gun con­trol sparked by the Park­land shoot­ing by march­ing out of her school in March, Like many other protestors, she said the fed­eral gov­ern­ment should do more to ad­dress the is­sue.

“It’s un­ac­cept­able what is go­ing on,” Adia said, “and Congress has not done any­thing about it."

Adia among many black cit­i­zens that were present to protest not only mass shoot­ings, but also po­lice bru­tal­ity and gun vi­o­lence that plague neigh­bor­hoods of color.

Fred­er­ick Shel­ton, 43, stood aside the packed streets, hold­ing a sign that read: If the op­po­site of pro is con... what is the op­po­site of progress?”

The mean­ing of his sign, Shel­ton said, “We’re not mov­ing for­ward.”

“It’s just a mat­ter of time be­fore any of us get shot, be­cause our fed­eral gov­ern­ment is not do­ing any­thing,” he said. “We’re all just sit­ting around wait­ing for the next mass shoot­ing. It could be you. It could be me. And that’s a hor­ri­ble way to live.”

Shel­ton teaches English as a sec­ond lan­guage to im­mi­grant stu­dents in Wash­ing­ton. He said his stu­dents are uniquely af­fected by gun laws and said he par­tic­i­pated in the march to make their lives bet­ter.

“I be­lieve that there is no place for guns in our society,” he said. “Guns are for the mil­i­tary.”

Tameka Garner-Barry, brought her three sons, two, five and eleven-years old, to the march to “re­claim” their schools and their com­mu­nity. Her chil­dren, though young, have rec­og­nized the prob­lem and wanted to be at the march to speak out.

“Th­ese are is­sues and con­cerns that they’ve had, so it’s only right that they come out and voice their opin­ions and let their voices be heard,” Garn­erBarry said.

Stand­ing at his mother’s hip, five-year-old Bryson chipped in his feel­ings.

“I feel like peo­ple have to stop the vi­o­lence,” he said, “be­cause peo­ple are get­ting hurt.”

Garner-Barry said she wanted to see the re­moval of guns from the streets and height­ened se­cu­rity in school.

“I want Congress to know that we do con­trol the vote, and that we take th­ese is­sues se­ri­ously,” she said, “and I want the NRA to be dis­missed al­to­gether,”

Nia Smith, 21, a grad­u­at­ing se­nior film pro­duc­tion ma­jor at Howard Univer­sity from Chicago, was also at the march.

Chicago had the high­est num­ber of mur­ders two years in a row. In 2016, 771 were killed. The num­ber de­clined to 650 mur­dered in 2017, still higher than the num­ber of mur­ders in Los An­ge­les and New York City com­bined.

“Gun vi­o­lence has al­ways been a part of my life,” Smith said. “I have had fam­ily mem­bers that I’ve lost to gun vi­o­lence.”

Though the march ad­dressed gun vi­o­lence, in­clud­ing some speak­ers who tlked abut gun vi­o­lence against AfricanAmer­i­can men and women, she said she felt as though cer­tain forms of gun vi­o­lence, such as po­lice bru­tal­ity, were over­looked by pro­test­ers be­cause of class and race.

“They fail to see that gun vi­o­lence is gun vi­o­lence, pe­riod...the po­lice and the per­pe­tra­tors of the class­room shoot­ings,” Smith said.

To fully com­bat the is­sue, there must be sup­port across racial lines, she said.

“I don’t think they should be sep­a­rated,” she said. “I think white peo­ple should march the way they marched today for the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment. They all died the same way. They all died by a bul­let.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF HOWARD U NEWS SER­VICE

Adia Granger, far right, and scores of Bal­ti­more stu­dents came to the march on buses spon­sored by Bal­ti­more Mayor Cather­ine Pugh.. Spencer said her cousin was shot while walk­ing home from work.

PHOTOS COUR­TESY OF HOWARD UNIVER­SITY NEWS SER­VICE

Tameka Garner-Barry brought her sons, 2, 5, and 11, to the march to “re­claim” their schools and their com­mu­nity. Fred Shel­ton, who teaches English as a sec­ond lan­guage to Latino stu­dents in Wash­ing­ton, said guns should be limited to the mil­i­tary.

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