All Articles Tagged "gun violence"

This Is What Black Mothers Are Doing To Stop Senseless Violence In Chicago

July 31st, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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The next time one of your ignorant Facebook friends asks what are Black people doing about “Black on Black crime,” you can tell them about the “Army of Moms” on the South side of Chicago.

This…vintage news somehow slipped under our radar about a month ago, but we felt it was an important and inspirational story that needed to be told.

According to DNAinfo.com, these concerned women, mothers, started patrolling their neighborhoods in late June after the death of Lucille Barnes. The group of volunteers calls themselves Mothers Against Senseless Killings. The women wore pink shirts, sat in folding chairs and leaned on mailboxes  hoping to prevent retaliation.

According to police Barnes, 34, was killed after a man walked by her and two other women and opened fire.

Tamar Manasseh, Englewood resident and founder of Mothers Against Senseless Killings, said “People are very emotional about it, and we don’t know what’s going to happen. If people say there will be violence, there likely will be violence, and you go where you are called.”

Manasseh organized the event for the first time after this particular shooting, hoping that people would be dissuaded from shooting if they were being watched by a mother figure, 15 mother figures, to be exact.

Manasseh said, “If you’re trying to shoot someone and we’re out here, you’re not getting off the block.”

The group plans to be on that corner everyday, for four hours, from now until Labor Day.

If and when another shooting happens, the mothers will move to make sure the neighborhood knows the mothers are watching.

The group, who is working without the help of police, brought grills and hot dogs to show that the message is coming from community members rather than law enforcement.

Manasseh said, “This is about reconnecting with children that haven’t been mothered that much. Take away the guns, and they’re just kids.”

Manasseh and others in her community believe that parents had relinquished authority to their teenaged children and the violence in Southside is a result of that.

The goal now is to change the mindset and not just simply take the guns away.

So far, it’s worked. according to another piece in DNAinfo, five weeks after Barnes’ murder there have been no shootings on the block or on the 7500 block of South Harvard where the patrols are set up.

Still, Manasseh says that the group needs more volunteers.

Right now there are about 15 adult volunteers who have pledged to be out every day until Labor Day. It’s the same number of people they had initially after the June shooting.

She laments the brevity of people’s attention spans.

“It’s hard to keep their interests between tragedies.”

One community leader cited fear as the reason Manasseh hasn’t seen more participation.

“It’s not easy. Our people are afraid so they don’t participate.”

Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case with the teens from the neighborhood. At least 24 teenagers have taken an interest in keeping their community safe and have started participating in the patrols.

The ultimate goal is to get people on other blocks to follow Manasseh’s example and start their own patrols in their own neighborhoods. Manasseh plans to hold an orientation in the future to teach conflict resolution and strategic placement.

In an earlier interview, Manasseh said, “A mother’s love is selfless, annoying and always there. This is what mothers do best, get in the way.”

If you’re interested in helping Manasseh and her cause, you can learn more here.

Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq” Will Be Amazon’s First Feature Film

July 15th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Spike Lee

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While Amazon battles its “Christmas In July” sale competition with Walmart, the prominent online marketer announced Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq film will be its first feature-length film.

Based on the reoccurring violence in the inner-city of the Chicago, Lee’s cast includes Nick Cannon, Jennifer Hudson, Common, Wesley Snipes and John Cusack— some of whom grew up in the city. Despite the criticism the film has received for its title (a slang word used to describe the level of violence and conflict in the city), Amazon reports filming finished last week. Many politicians believe it will be hurtful to Chicago’s tourism, although they fail to address ways to better its on-going gun violence situation.

This past January, Amazon began planning to produce a dozen films this year in the hopes of creating distribution deals with traditional theaters. It also plans to release those same movies on its Prime streaming video service a month or two after it releases in theaters. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon’s aggressive approach may help them with their leading competitor Netflix who has several hit original content films and shows.

Prior to Spike Lee, Amazon launched deals with Woody Allen and Doonesbury comic strip creator Garry Trudeau.

“Lord Jesus, These Streets Is Not Right”: Bloody 4th Of July Weekend Leaves Chicago Residents Reeling

July 6th, 2015 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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The Fourth of July will be remembered as bloody weekend by Chicago residents after tragedy swept through the city during the celebratory occasion. According to NBC News, nine people were killed and 46 were wounded in shootings that spanned across the city.

Among the deceased is 7-year-old Amari Brown, who was enjoying a fireworks shows along with his father in Humboldt Park around midnight Saturday. Sadly, the show was cut short when the gunfire erupted not far away from where the twosome stood. Amari and a 26-year-old woman were wounded. The elementary school student died from his injuries. The other victim, however, was transported to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital in stable condition.

According to Amari’s father, Antonio Brown, he assumed that the gunshots were fireworks at first. He also confessed that he didn’t know the boy had been shot until he heard him calling out for him. According to CNN, police believe that the boy’s father, who they say is a known gang member, was actually the target of the shooting.

“We need to repair a broken system,” Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told reporters Sunday. “Criminals don’t feel the repercussions of the justice system.”

McCarthy went on to say that the system failed young Amari, reasoning that his father would have never been on the streets in the first place if the city had tougher gun laws. Antonio’s criminal history consists of 45 arrests.

“If Mr. Brown is in custody, his son is alive,” McCarthy said.

Police are still on the hunt for Amari’s killer, and they’re claiming that Antonio has not been cooperative in the investigation.

“Love your kids every day,” said Amari’s grieving mother, Amber Hailey. “Tell them every day. Keep them with you. Lord Jesus, these streets is not right.”

Community leaders have raised a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Amari’s killer. Despite the alarming number of shootings that occurred this weekend, the number of shootings has dropped in comparison to this time last year. In 2014, there were 69 shooting victims and 15 murders.

Is It Right That Rappers Are Being Arrested Over Violent Rap Lyrics?

June 26th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Unfortunately, it is not unusual to read about rappers getting arrested for engaging in criminal activity, but what about getting arrested for pretending to be gangsters in a music video?

That is what happened to an unsigned hype from Jersey City, New Jersey. Sort of. According to reports by All Hip Hop.com and NJ.com, nine members of a New Jersey Bloods gang, who also make up the hip-hop group DFG, were arrested for brandishing a gun while filming their their music video. The video, which is for their first single called “MoneyCello,” was posted about a year ago, but somehow it recently caught the attention of the Jersey City Street Crimes Unit who used the “evidence” to get an arrest warrant for the nine men.

According to published reports, one of the rappers was apprehended while at his full-time non-rap gig at a warehouse. Another was arrested while in bed with his girlfriend. During the raids, which included a search for the YouTube music video, police found small amounts of drugs and other paraphernalia in their homes; however, none of the reports specify if the actual guns (or any guns for that matter) used in the music video were recovered. Still, experts from the Newark Police Department’s Ballistic Lab are certain that the guns used in the video were real and have determined that one of the handguns was either a 9mm or a .380 semi-automatic.

And because of the video, which prior to their arrest had only a couple thousand views, the rap group is looking at a litany of charges, including felony unlawful possession of a handgun.

This is not the first time rappers have been arrested for their stellar performances. Last year in San Francisco, Bayview plainclothes officers raided the set of a rap music video and arrested 20 people on various charges, including suspicion of being a felon in possession of a loaded semi-automatic handgun and suspicion of selling drugs. And in 2014, two rappers out of Pittsburgh were arrested and convicted of intimidating witnesses, making terroristic threats and conspiracy. This all stemmed from a YouTube rap video, which included a lyric that threatened two Pittsburgh police officers who arrested the pair in the past on unrelated gun and drug charges. The song also referenced a cop killer who had gunned down three officers in 2009.  The rappers were sentenced to a minimum of two years in prison.

An article from The New York Times entitled “Legal Debate on Using Boastful Rap Lyrics as a Smoking Gun” recently took note of this growing trend in law enforcement. According to the report, in the last two years alone there have been three dozen prosecutions in which rap lyrics were used as either confessions or to help paint an “unsavory picture of a defendant to help establish motive and intent.” As reported by the Times, prosecutors and law enforcement alike see rap lyrics as an important crime fighting tool, however:

“The proliferation of cases has alarmed many scholars and defense lawyers, who say that independent of a defendant’s guilt or innocence, the lyrics are being unfairly used to prejudice judges and juries who have little understanding that, for all its glorification of violence, gangsta rappers are often people who have assumed over-the-top and fictional personas.”

I have to agree with the scholars and defense lawyers. Rappers, particularly those who rap about the streets, are easy prey because they are involved in a profession that requires them to portray violent images and hyper-masculinity. And it really does seem like these law enforcement agencies and prosecutors are exploiting the general public’s–particularly White America’s– ignorance and disdain for hip-hop music to prosecute otherwise difficult cases. Likewise, I am sure there are tons of Hollywood directors being violent gang-related films sitting in their mansions with tons of cocaine and other drugs stuffed up their noses like Tony Montana in Scarface. And yet, I can’t recall a single one of them being targeted for felonies.

The question that comes to mind when I think of this case in New Jersey is how does one determine the authenticity of a gun from a video on YouTube? I know high definition helps to add more resolution to people and things, but it sure as hell doesn’t make them three dimensional. I mean we are talking about law enforcement agencies that can’t always tell the difference between a toy gun and a real gun in the hands of a 12-year-old boy.

But what do folks think? Is this fair or are aspiring rappers being set up by a malicious and opportunistic court system? Leave your comments below.

[Watch] Viola Davis And Jennifer Lopez Are Vengeful Killers In “Lila And Eve”

June 5th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Lila And Eve

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This summer, Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez will take the screen in the dramatic indie film, Lila And Eve. Previewed in January at the Sundance Film Festival, Lila And Eve centers around two mothers whose children have died.

The women meet one another at a grief support meeting and quickly form a friendship. When Lila is not satisfied with the police investigation regarding her son’s death, Eve encourages her to take matters into her own hands. The two then begin to investigate the case and find Lila’s son’s killer, however,  they become extremely vengeful in the process.

With drama, murder, grief and drugs intertwining in the film, it appears Lila And Eve will be nothing short of a hit summer thriller.

Directed by Charles Stone III (Drumline), Lila And Eve will debut on July 17th in theaters and on demand.

Take a look at the trailer, below!

Wear Orange: Friends and Family Remember Hadiya Pendleton On Her Would-Be-18th Birthday

June 2nd, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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hadiya pendleton

We all remember the senseless and tragic death of 15-year-old Chicago student Hadiya Pendleton two years ago.

The honor student was trying to shield herself from the rain, under a park canopy, when a young man jumped the fence and opened fire, presumably targeting other gang members in the park.

Pendleton’s death made national news as she had just performed in President Obama’s second inauguration a few days prior. First Lady, Michelle Obama identified personally with Hadiya being that she too was a stellar student from Chicago. She was so moved she spoke at Pendleton’s funeral.

Today, on what would have been Pendleton’s 18th birthday, her friends, family members, community members as well as supporters across the country have banded together to remember her by wearing orange.

According to the Chicago Tribune, months after her death, Hadiya’s friends started the Wear Orange campaign to raise awareness about gun violence in their community and across the nation. They chose orange in reference to hunter’s orange, a very bright and fluorescent color that lets others know they are not to be targeted by other people.

The Wear Orange campaign started the first National Gun Violence Awareness Day in honor of Hadiya and others who’ve lost their lives.

Today, from 3:30-8 p.m., Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will join with other city leaders at a Wear Orange Party for Peace in Harold Washington Park to honor those lives.

You can watch Hadiya’s friends, family and other community members talk about the initiative in the video below.

Stop The Violence: Celebs Whose Relatives Were Victims Of Gun Violence

January 7th, 2015 - By Iva Anthony
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Despite having wealth and fame, no one is immune from suffering a family tragedy. These celebrities understand all too well the current climate of the country as they too were affected by gun violence after a relative was shot or killed.

Celebs Whose Relatives Were Victims Of Gun Violence

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Jennifer Hudson

In 2008, Jennifer Hudson lost several family members to gun violence. Her brother-in-law William Balfour killed her mother, brother and seven-year-old nephew. He was reportedly upset that his estranged wife Julia, the famous singer’s sister, had been seeing another man. Four years later, Balfour was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences plus an additional 120 years.

11-Year-Old Shot In Miami Nightclub, Over A Dozen Shots Fired

September 30th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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From The Grio

An 11-year-old was shot, along with 14 other people, in a

shooting that broke out at a Miami nightclub early Sunday morning, according to various reports.

Drinks were flowing and music was pumping, according to a vivid report from the Miami Herald, when suddenly gun shots rang out. Witnesses told the paper they heard at least dozens if not more than 100 shots fired in the packed strip mall club.

Miami authorities told The Associated Press that when local police and rescue crews arrived at “The Spot” around 1 in the morning, they discovered a chaotic crush of teens and adults reeling from the shooting, with wounded people both inside and outside the club. Victims included one wounded male who was unresponsive and not breathing when emergency responders arrived on the scene.

Some people were running, “people were screaming, people were saying they were shot,” Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll told the AP.

Read more about this case at TheGrio.com 

“Change Has GOT To Come!!!” Monica Mourns The Loss Of A Good Friend Shot And Killed; Takes Stand Against Gun Violence

August 25th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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singer Monica

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Gun violence is something that has affected many of us, and it’s something that is currently impacting singer Monica and her family. A good friend of her family (a best friend of her brother-in-law David Brown) was recently shot and killed, and the singer took to social media to get his name and his story out there. She, like so many, is tired of these shootings becoming so common.

“With a heavy heart & tear filled eyes I send all my love and condolences to my brother @dcaffe & his family RIP Chris your friendship & loyalty to my brother made you MY FAMILY… I’ve stopped asking why to ask WHEN.. When will these senseless acts of violence stop.. You were gunned down, taken from your children & in this cold cruel world that cares more now about reporting fashion & who’s dating who there was barely a mention on the news.. #WakeUpWorld the old burying the young is NOT the way it’s supposed to be. People only care for us as much as we care for ourselves … Change has GOT to come!!! #GoneToSoon”

We give our condolences to Monica, the Brown family and the family of her friend Chris in their loss. We too are hoping that a change will come sooner than later.

 

 

There’s An $11B Fund To Help Victims Of Violent Crime, But Black Men Are Often Left Out

August 5th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Still image from the Moguldom Studios film “Gunland

Unfortunately, violent crime is an everyday occurrence in the US. Under the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984, victims are supposed to be granted support services in the aftermath. But according to Colorlines, many young Black men are not deemed “innocent” enough to receive such assistance.

As part of its Life Cycles of Inequity series, Colorlines launched an investigation into government funding for crime victims and why young Black men seem to get the short end of the stick. VOCA is an $11 billion fund established by Congress, but victims of color rarely see a dime.

“…[L]aw enforcement often serves as arbiter of who’s a deserving victim and who’s not,” Colorlines says. And they decide “who gets aid and who must fend for themselves.” In other words, psychological, emotional, and financial support for young Black assault victims hinges on the “yay” or “nay” of police officers.

“The biases that exist around black men lead people to think of them first and foremost as perpetrators,” said Kai Wright, Colorlines editor-at-large in a press release. “Law enforcement should not be the arbiter of who’s a victim.”

And Illinois, home to the troubled South Side Chicago, is one of the least generous of VOCA’s aid. And that’s why Carla Murphy, partnering with Colorlines, focused her year-long examination in the heart of Chi-town.

According to Murphy, for a victim to apply for VOCA aid, one must apply at the attorney general’s office. But the problem is that judges rely heavily on police reports to determine whether or not a victim may receive compensation. In neighborhoods with tense police-community relations, it’s likely that these reports will be skewed.

“Typically the biggest problem that we have is that somewhere there is a police document that associates the victim with gang affiliation,” said Susan Johnson, executive director of Chicago’s Citizens for Change. “It can be that the crime is a gang-related crime, but the victim is an innocent victim. And we don’t see that disassociation made in the police write-ups. So then the victim of the crime gets tainted with that, and then the victim’s compensation will be denied.”

Dominique Harris, a Chicago resident whose heart escaped the impact of a bullet by just few inches last year, agreed. “Police don’t see us as innocent,” Harris says. “They see us as a gangbanger.”

Using the hashtag #LivesOfBlackMen, follow the discussion on Twitter with @Colorlines today, August 5th, at 1pm ET.