Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gun violence kills 3-year-old

After hearing the sound of gunshot near to his home in north Minneapolis 3-year-old Terrell was headed up the stairs with three other boys when he was hit in the back of the head by a stray shot.  He died 17 hours later in the hospital.

It was disturbing to read Facebook entries about this tragic incident throughout the day yesterday by a few friends who either work and or live in North Minneapolis. Both Don Samuels, city councilman, and VJ Smith, head of MADD Dads visited Terrell and his mother while in the hospital. Many residents of the Northside posted their outrage on Facebook, and most offered up their prayers.  A vigil is being planned for Friday.

While prayer is valuable, it seems somehow inadequate.  It reminds me of the Bible passage from 1 Corinthians 13:1 "If I speak in the tongues of men and angeles, but have not love, I am only a  resounding gong or clanging cymbal."  I'm also reminded of a story by someone who's seen his share of the aftermath of urban violence, Newark's Mayor, Cory Booker.  He told a story while speaking at the Westminster Town Hall Forum about how hundreds of people showed up for the funeral of a young man who was slain by gun violence, but seemingly no one was there for him when he needed it. Given the absence of positive support he was drawn into the wrong crowd, who provided him some of the safety and attention he so desperately needed.

So, what to do about this continued violence?  One initiative that holds much promise is the Northside Achievement Zone.  It is aiming to provided both the essential mentoring and educational support essential for kids to thrive.  More information about volunteering is available from their website.

We must consider means to decrease the amount of gun violence on our streets.  According to the National Institute of Justice in 2005 there were 11,346 people killed by firearm violence and 477,040 people were victims of a crime committed with a firearm in the US.  Then consider for a moment that there were a total of 3,531 American military casualties from combat in the Iraq war since it's start in 2003.  We have a far greater war occurring everyday on the streets in the USA, which isn't being adequately addressed.

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