The author of this column is the member of a gun control group called Students Demand Action.
My neighbor called an ambulance after a man ran behind her apartment building and asked for help then passed out on the sidewalk. My sister and I watched from our back porch as he was given CPR then carried into the fire truck and driven to St. Joseph’s. I sat there for a while after, watching the crime scene tape go up, the police officers, investigators and detectives talking amongst themselves, staring at his shoes, wallet and keys strewn about on the sidewalk.
This man was shot as he was riding his bike home from his girlfriend’s house on the evening of Aug. 28 after a verbal argument with a group of people in a car who shot him as he ran away. He died from his wounds at the hospital. No arrests have been made. His name cannot be released by the police department due to a new Florida constitutional amendment protecting crime victims. The scene was gone by morning except for a blood stain that can be removed only by time.
That was the second shooting I know of in the last couple of months on my block in Tampa Heights. The other was the fatal shooting of Eric Patterson. The police don’t know who did it or why, but they say it wasn’t random. There was no community debrief, it was just accepted. Most shootings in urban communities are like this, and perhaps that is why America’s gun violence rate is so high. People believe they aren’t affected by the issue because they don’t know how close shootings like this are to them.
The impact of gun-violence in everyday lives wasn’t as clear to me until these shootings happened so close to home. So many more families are impacted by everyday acts of gun violence that aren’t paid attention to, especially and disproportionately black communities.
Guns take the lives of 10 times more black children than white children, according to the National Council of Family Relations. For nearly 400 years, black Americans have been unfairly treated, and the impacts on black communities show.
Stereotypes create the idea that gun violence is a natural part of poor and minority communities and that it should be accepted, which is not the case. But it does create a cycle.
Sometimes hardships lead people to make dangerous decisions so they can care for themselves and their family. This country’s history has created potholes for black communities and the inexistence of proper coverage or concern of the impact everyday gun violence has in minority communities hasn’t filled them.
It has been three months since Patterson was shot and one month since my neighbor’s death. No arrests have been made for either. The coverage was limited. They both had daughters and families that walked down the same street and stared at where they were last alive. This is who we need to remember in our fight for gun safety and racial equality.