CHICAGO – July ended in Chicago as it began: mourning the death of a child whose only mistake was to venture outside to play when someone came to the neighborhood with a gun to look for an enemy .
On Monday, two days after his department released statistics showing that the month was one of the deadliest in the city’s history, police commissioner David Brown repeated what had become a grim ritual of telling the death of a child.
This time it was about Janari Ricks. “Nine years old (he) was shot while he was doing what every child in our city should do without a second thought … playing with friends on a warm summer evening right outside their front door,”
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His death underscores an increase in gun violence in the United States that has increased throughout the year.
There were 237 murders in New York City in 2020 compared to 181 in the same period last year.
The overall number is lower in Atlanta, but the increase is obvious: 76 murders this year compared to 56 in the first seven months of 2019. Of this year’s total murders, 23 or almost a third were recorded in July alone.
It was similar in Boston. After 25 murders in the first seven months of 2019, Boston had 35 murders in the same period this year. And 15 of them were in July.
It is difficult to say how many of the victims of the year are children. But every day headlines across the country tell one story after another about children who die doing nothing but being children.
In Ohio in just over a week: A 14-year-old boy in Columbus died on July 25 when he was shot on a scooter; An infant was killed and his twin brother wounded when someone fired shots into his home on July 22nd. A year old was killed and two adults wounded in Akron on Sunday when someone opened fire on a house.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many children were murdered in Ohio this year, but the total is 13 in Columbus alone.
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In Philadelphia, a 7-year-old died on the weekend of a gunfight between three men in front of his home from his injuries. Police spokesman Inspector Sekou Kinebrew said Zamar Jones died on Monday. The boy was sitting on his porch on Saturday when he was shot.
One of the men involved in the shootout, Christopher Linder (27), was arrested and charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault. He is now charged with murder, the prosecutor said. The others involved in the shootout are not in custody.
According to the Philadelphia police, arms violence in the city has increased 36% this year compared to the previous year. The number of people murdered by Sunday was 255, an increase of 34% over the previous year and more than the annual figure for 2014 when 248 people were killed.
In the minutes after July turned August, the Chicago Police Department reported that there had been 105 murders during the month, compared to 44 in July 2019, making it the deadliest month in town since September 1992.
Chicago had suffered 440 murders by the end of July, compared to 290 in the same period last year. And more and more victims are children.
Brown said Janari was the 38th youngster to be fatally shot in the city this year. A total of 19 children under the age of 10 were shot in 2020, five of them fatally.
According to a report released on Monday in the Chicago Tribune, these five murders for children under the age of 10 are more than twice as high as any other year in the past eight years.
The reasons, according to those who observe the violence, try to prevent it and have been touched by it, begin with the open gang war in Chicago, which seems to have increased in recent years. Brown has said that there are more than 100,000 gang members who belong to the city’s 55 known gangs, which themselves are divided into approximately 2,500 subgroups of gangs.
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However, recent shootings, including one outside a gang member’s funeral, underline a terrorizing fact about the gangs: they seem more willing than ever to just open fire towards a rival, regardless of others.
This happened on the evening of July 4, when, according to prosecutors, three men discovered in a car a man who they believed had killed a member of their gang days earlier. They got out of the vehicle and opened fire.
One of the bullets hit the intended target in the ankle, but another hit 7-year-old Natalia Wallace in the forehead and killed her when she was playing in front of her grandmother’s house.
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“We shouldn’t have to worry about someone pulling up to shoot (but) it just seems like it’s going to be the new normal. A child was shot on the street when it was a child, ”said her father Nathan Wallace. “She just enjoyed the 4th.”
Pastor Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest and prominent activist on the south side of the city for more than 40 years, said this “new normal” included a willingness to shoot anyone who was close to an intended target.
“The shootings used to be targeted, now it’s spraying on porches, parks, and down the street,” he said. “I don’t think they are trying to kill children, but I think their attitude is: ‘I may not understand you, but I know these are your friends and family out there and I will get someone you know. ‘”
Associate press writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta; Andrew Welsh-Huggins of Columbus, Ohio; and Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston contributed to this report.