All Articles Tagged "gun violence"
The month of May is when we celebrate Mother’s Day but a group of mothers has taken the opportunity to shed light on gun violence. Mothers On A Mission Against Urban Gun Violence has teamed up with BET Networks and The National Action Network to host a month-long campaign during the month of May. The campaign’s purpose is to educate and empower mothers and women to unite against urban gun violence with a special 5-point call to action.
At the launch of the campaign, Cleopatra Pendleton, mother of slain 15-year-old Chicago student Hadiya Pendleton, delivered a passionate call to action.
“The day Hadiya was born my life began and the day she died I thought it was the end of mine, until I realized it was the beginning of my new life – as an activist,” she said. Pendleton pointed out that while Hadiya was the “. . . 42nd child killed at the hands of gun violence in 2013,” there have been countless others after and the numbers continue to rise.
M.O.M.’s “5 Point Call to Action” for mothers during the month of May:
1. Find a local anti-violence program in your area and donate time and/or money.
2. Work with other mothers to petition your local community center or church to stay open to provide conflict resolution and anti-violence programming for youth especially during summer months.
3. Contact elected officials and make your voice heard about gun violence.
4. Work with local organizations like National Action Network on programs like “Occupy the Corners.”
5. Mentor youth in your community.
BET and The National Action Network will leverage all of their platforms including on-air programming and social media and grassroots community mobilization to encourage women to speak out against urban gun violence around the country throughout the month.
Unfortunately, we have some sad news to report on this morning. Rapper Trina’s brother Wilbrent “Gonk” Bain was shot and killed Tuesday morning in broad daylight in Miami. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to NBC 6, Bain was shot by his longtime friend, Rob Dobson following a feud that spiraled out of control. A police affidavit suggests that following a dispute between the two men, Bain was getting off of his bicycle when Dobson pulled a gun out of his waistband and shot Bain multiple times.
After he was arrested, Dobson confessed to his involvement in Bain’s shooting death. He is currently facing second-degree murder charges. Friends, family and neighbors mourn the loss of Bain, fondly remembering him as a “good kid.”
“Now, I’m hurt because this man is gone for no reason at all. He was a close friend to me,” said neighbor Demetrius Hammond.
“He’s a very good kid. It’s unfortunate. It’s a terrible tragedy,” said Rev. Gary Johnson.
“It hit me hard because I just talked to him. This killing has to stop. It has to. All of us grew up together and that’s just senseless,” said neighbor Trimel.
It’s unfortunate that Wilbrent’s life was senselessly snatched away. We send our prayers to the Bain family.
Turn the page to watch NBC 6′s full report.
“Hadiya Pendleton Was Me”: Michelle Obama Emotionally Adresses Gun Violence In Her Hometown Of Chicago
While gun control has become a huge topic of conversation all over the country since the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings last December, most people know that it has been a massive problem for people living in and around Chicago for many years now. Every summer is a bloodbath and innocent young students are dying senselessly, often by the hands of their classmates involved in gang activity.
As President Obama continues to make a push for tougher gun laws (an agreement between Democrat and Republican senators was made on expanding background checks and tightening gun trafficking laws yesterday in Washington), First Lady Michelle Obama headed to her hometown of Chicago to make a push at a fundraising lunch to encourage residents to fight against the gun violence in their streets and to push politicians to fight for tougher gun legislation. A big change for the First Lady. To get her point across in her speech, she spoke about Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old with her whole life ahead of her who was gunned down at a park while with friends just a week after performing as a majorette at President Obama’s inauguration events. Her shooters mistook Pendleton and her group for rival gang members. Obama pointed out that she could have easily ended up the same way, especially since Pendleton’s family went out of their way to keep her busy and out of trouble:
“Hadiya’s family was just like my family. Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I was her. But I got to grow up. And go to Princeton, and Harvard Law School and have a career and a family and the most blessed life I could ever imagine. And Hadiya, oh we know that story.”
“…Many of our children have never been to the Art Institute or Millennium Park. Many of them don’t even know the University of Chicago even exists. They are consumed with watching their backs. They are afraid to walk alone because they might get jumped. They are afraid to walk in groups because they might get identified as a gang.”
“The president is fighting as hard as he can and engaging as many people as he can to pass common sense reforms to protect our children from gun violence. These reforms deserve a vote in Congress.”
Check out her very moving speech on the next page and let us know what you think of what she had to say, as well as your stance on what can be done, if anything to curb gun violence.
“Whites are far more likely to shoot themselves, and African Americans are far more likely to be shot by someone else” says The Washington Post, reporting on new data that shows gun deaths are often shaped by race. The Washington Post analyzed data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and found that a white person is five times as likely to commit suicide with a gun as to be shot with a gun. And for each African American who uses a gun to commit suicide, five are killed by other people with guns.
Race is not the only factor in gun deaths. Location also plays into the results. According to the study, gun deaths in urban areas are much more likely to be homicides. Suicide occurs more often in rural areas. And here is another twist; the states with the most guns per capita, such as Montana and Wyoming, have the highest suicide rates. However, the states with low gun ownership rates, such as Massachusetts and New York, have fewer suicides per capita.
When it comes to gun control, the races also differ on the issue. African Americans are more likely to be backers of tough gun controls, as opposed to whites. About three-quarters of blacks support stronger controls, compared with about half of whites, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. Two-thirds of city dwellers support stronger gun controls; only about a third of rural residents back them.
The gun control debate is heating up. New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns are spending $12 million to place ads across 13 states, pushing for stiffer gun control laws. Organizing for Action, a nonprofit that supports President Obama’s issues of interest, is also looking for names on a petition pushing for greater gun control. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a meeting recently to review four firearm-related bills, bringing debate on Second Amendment rights and public safety to the forefront, according to a press release. These bills include: The Assault Weapons Ban of 2013; Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013; Protecting Responsible Gun Sellers Act of 2013; and School Safety Enhancements Act of 2013.
With the debate has come money to promote each side. Maplight, a nonprofit that tracks money and politics, finds that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has contributed $5,868 to members of the 113th Congress since January 1, 2009. The NRA, meanwhile, has contributed $1,453,637 to members of the 113th Congress since that date. Texas is the top contributing state to the NRA.
Oddly, hardcore gun rights advocacy group the National Rifle Association suggests that they link between guns and suicide could be considered a virtue. “Gun owners are notably self-reliant and exhibit a willingness to take definitive action when they believe it to be in their own self-interest,” the NRA wrote in a fact sheet, called “Suicide and Firearms,” on the Website for the group’s lobbying arm. “Such action may include ending their own life when the time is deemed appropriate.”
According to WashPo, “Some experts say mass shootings such as the one in which 20 first-graders and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December can often be seen as extravagant suicides rather than homicidal rampages.” Experts indicate that preventing these killings requires better treatment of mental health problems and limiting access to weapons.
Justice For Jonylah: 6-Month-Old Killed In Shooting In Chicago To Be Laid To Rest Today; Large Crowds Expected
It was just last Monday that 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins was sitting in her father’s van in the South Side neighborhood of Woodlawn in Chicago when a gunman ambushed father and daughter, stopping her young life before it ever really had a chance to get started with one bullet. Since then, outrage has poured in all over the country over the non-stop gun violence and the fact that our children are having to face it head on now. As for who is behind this particular shooting, while police say that Jonathan Watkins had gang ties, that he was the target of the shooting, and that there are Facebook threats online directed at him (however, he says he doesn’t know why someone would come after him or his daughter), a suspect still hasn’t been caught as of yet. However, Jonathan Watkins has started to cooperate with the police and Superintendent Garry McCarthy is hoping that his participation in the investigation will bring in the suspect. “When this is all said and done…we are going to close this case.”
But today, people will come together in the city to say goodbye to Jonylah Watkins, as her funeral will be held at 11 a.m. But visitation for family and friends has already started, and according to WGN-TV in Chicago, the young girl has been placed in a 3-foot-6 inch casket with a teddy bear inside. The funeral will also be open casket. Despite reports that NBA player Derrick Rose would be helping to cover the funeral expenses, the local funeral home Leak & Sons, according to the Huffington Post, has actually taken care of all costs for the 6-month-old’s family. Spencer Leak, the home’s funeral director, spoke to DNAinfo in Chicago and says that Jonylah’s death is one of the worst that he has had to preside over. “I’ve had children 4, 5 and 6 years old, but this is the youngest. It’s terrible. It’s just heartbreaking. I have a grandchild a little older, so it really broke my heart. I feel for the family — these are just little tiny innocents.”
How someone can sleep at night knowing they took the life of an infant, we don’t know, but let’s hope that a suspect will be brought to justice for the Watkins family and this baby girl.
NRA Tells African Americans They Need Guns To Protect Themselves From “Sociopaths,” “Culture,” Others
The National Rifle Association has been on a tear these past few months, trying to convince the public and gun owners that the government is overstepping its boundaries with any sort of gun control reforms, including universal background checks. The organization has been running numerous ads across various states labeling efforts by President Obama, the Democrats, and other gun control advocates as “the single most devastating attack on the Second Amendment that this country has ever seen,” to use the words of the organization’s CEO, Wayne LaPierre.
Now the organization is beefing up its efforts to reach the African-American community specifically. The NRA has a new ad campaign that says the black community needs guns to protect itself from the government, using the Civil Rights movement as a jumping off point for its argument.
“The video is part of an effort by the gun lobby to grow the organization’s appeal beyond a mostly white, middle-class membership and attribute high rates of gun violence in some African American communities to “culture” rather than the prevalence of guns,” ThinkProgress writes.
The ad (available below) stars YouTube celeb and gun advocate Colion Noir, who rants for 1 1/2 minutes about the hypocrisy of the anti-gun violence movement and the need for firearms. This is ”[t]he same government who at one point hosed us down with water, attacked us with dogs, wouldn’t allow us to eat at their restaurants and told us we couldn’t own guns,” he says at one point.
At the end of the video, he says,”Guy telling me to get rid of my guns when I need them the most, isn’t my friend, isn’t looking out for my best interests and doesn’t speak for me or the community that I’m part of.” But is the NRA a part of the black community? Or is this an opportunitistic appeal to the black community at a time when the NRA needs all the help it can get to advance its agenda? News site Salon turns the hypocrisy accusations back on the NRA, citing a 2011 article in The Atlantic that highlights the historical efforts by the NRA and others to enact gun restrictions. “The one time NRA wanted gun control was when Black Panthers took up arms. Now it wants black support,” reads the Salon sub-headline.
ThinkProgress points out some disturbing statistics. For instance, blacks made up about 13 percent of the population in 2010, but 56 percent of the people killed by guns. And highlights a Minneapolis program that focused on city programs that would divert young people in vulnerable communities from gangs and other activities that typically lead to gun violence.
What do you think of the NRA’s appeal to African Americans?
“Guns For Greatness” Offers NY Youth Mentorship And Beyonce Concert Tickets In Exchange For Illegal Firearms
Gun buyback programs have become fairly popular in crime plagued cities. They offer all kinds of incentives to the public in an effort to get illegal firearms off of the streets. The latest gun buyback program to garner much attention is being spearheaded by Hip Hop mogul, Michael “Blue” Williams. Michael’s program, which is still awaiting approval from NYPD’s Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly, seeks to take on the dutiful task of getting illegal guns out of the hands of New York’s youth in exchange for mentorship and tickets to Beyoncé’s highly anticipated “Mrs. Carter Show” concert, reports the Daily News.
“We want to get as many guns off the streets, and if this works, we’d like to support it,” Commissioner Kelly told the Daily News.
“The Beyoncé show is coming to Brooklyn; the Jay-Z show is coming to Yankee Stadium. Our goal is to reach out to individuals who are in my industry, in my world and who I have an association with and get their support. I think we should all work together to help get guns off the streets,” said Williams who is known for managing the careers of Outkast and Cee-Lo Green.
Once Commissioner Kelly approves the program, Williams is hoping to sit down with Jay-Z to negotiate some sort of tickets deal for Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake’s July Barlcays Center performance, in addition to Beyoncé’s August performance. Thus far Williams has raised $75,000 for his “Guns For Greatness” program, which he hopes to officially launch March 23rd at a Brooklyn church.
“This program aims to provide young people with an opportunity to receive guidance and inspiration from committed mentors, an important option that will enable them to experience possibilities other than a life surrounded by gun violence and unnecessary shootings and killing,” Williams expressed in his program pitch letter to Kelly.
Hot 97, IHOP and multiple record labels have already agreed to help out.
This sounds like a really great program. Hopefully it makes an impact.
In other Beyoncé news, shoe designer PMK recently released a custom made Isabel Marant wedge sneaker titled “The King Bey” for the singer, reports ELLE.
Demand A Plan: Hadiya Pendleton’s Mother Urges Congress To Take Gun Control Seriously In Heartfelt Commercial
Just one week following the arrest of her daughter’s alleged killers, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton is speaking out, in hopes of sparing other mothers from the heartache that she was forced to endure as a result of the senseless murder of her daughter. In an ad paid for by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Cleopatra tells the story of her daughter Hadiya, who had her entire life to look forward to, unfortunately, that life was cut short as a result of senseless gun violence.
The ad displays footage of Hadiya at President Obama’s inaugural parade, just one week prior to her untimely death. Cleopatra expresses how happy partaking in the inaugurual festivities made Hadiya, describing it as “the happiest day of her life.” In the thirty-second ad, Pendleton goes on to urge congress to implement laws that would assist in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, such as background checks on gun sales. The ad also provides a phone number in which people can call and request that congress support these reforms.
Hadiya’s mother is undeniably strong. It hasn’t even been a full month since her daughter’s death and she’s already putting forth efforts that could possibly prevent other moms from experiencing similar tragedies. Hopefully this situation will help raise awareness that if something is not done soon, the senseless killing of innocent children will only continue.
Watch the “Demand A Plan” ad on the next page. Do you think Cleopatra speaking out will have an impact?
South African Track Star Oscar Pistorius, AKA, “Blade Runner,” Charged With Murder Of His Girlfriend On Valentine’s Day
If you were watching the Olympics this past summer as intently as we were, I’m sure you know the story (or at least had heard of it) of Oscar Pistorius, 26, the South African sprint runner who had to have both his legs amputated from the knee down as a child after being born with fibular hemimelia. As he got older though, he didn’t let it hold him back from being involved in wide variety of athletics, including rugby, wrestling, tennis and of course, running. He was fitted with running blades in college and never looked back, making it to both the Paralympics and the Olympics, even when people tried to say he had an unfair advantage of some sort–which he allegedly didn’t.
Pistorius has always had a very inspiring story, but now that story has taken a very sad turn. Today, South African police will charge Pistorius with murder, a decision that comes after his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 30, was found shot dead early Thursday morning in his home. There is speculation, according to the Los Angeles Times that because of unrest that was going on around the area that the sprinter was living in, Pistorius was on alert for anyone trying to break into his home and had multiple weapons in it to protect himself. Sadly, the woman was said to be trying to get into his home to surprise him for Valentine’s Day, and he had her confused for an intruder and shot her multiple times in the arm and head with a 9-mm pistol. She died at the scene. However, police say they are investigating and aren’t confirming that this bit of information about a possible Valentine’s Day surprise gone wrong was true or false, and they’re also looking into past domestic incidents that were reported at Pistorius’ home.
According to the USA Today, Pistorius will appear in court on Friday, and he’s of course said to be broken up about the whole thing. According to his father, Henke Pistorius, who spoke with SABC radio news, says “If anyone makes a statement, it will have to be Oscar. He’s sad at the moment.”
Last night, President Obama gave the first State of the Union address of his second term (we live tweeted it here) and he raced through a number of big issues that he’d like to see Congress act on in the coming months. One of those issues, and possibly most unexpected, was a higher minimum wage.
But there were others that will be up for debate — among Congresspeople and voters alike. Here, we outline nine of the big ones. And in the comments, feel free to chime in with your thoughts and debate. That’s democracy at work!