I can recall not so long ago writing numerous letters to influential people in the city of Chicago asking them for help. I saw many of these same influential people who ignored my pleas at Hadiya Pendleton’s funeral service. I asked for help for my eighteen year old daughter, Ryann Brown, who was a survivor of gun violence on March 2, 2006. She sustained a gunshot to her brain. The young man she was with, who was shot in the chest, succumbed to his injury. My pleas fell on deaf ears in 2006.
Since that time I have lost count of the number of young people slaughtered in Chicago by other young people that look like them. I have even lost my youngest son, Ricky Brown, to gun violence. My son was murdered in Englewood on March 21, 2012. Right now my fifteen year old nephew lives with two bullets in his body from two separate shootings. I would be remiss if I failed to mention our young people who have been slaughtered by the Chicago Police Department.
Our people have developed a pattern of allowing the media and politicians to discount and devalue the lives of our loved ones by the commentary “gang-related or gang-affiliated”, as if this justifies their being slaughtered. We allow Chicago police to justify their role in the slaughter of our people by simply stating the officer “feared for their life”, even in instances where the victim was shot in the back, or where no weapon was found?
I believe your message to America should be that every young life in America is valuable. No matter their circumstance. We, as a country, must get to the root of the self- hatred that causes the violence. We must deal with the real causes and symptoms of gun violence. We repeatedly allow people who have ulterior motives to tell us how to stop violence in our communities instead of us, the people who suffer from violence, telling them how to stop violence in our communities.
Yes we have Ceasefire, Black Star Project and numerous other organizations, but they have not impacted or made a difference in stemming this violence and genocide. Think about it! The numbers of the dead and injured are escalating as they do their work. When is the last time we were given a status on a young person that survived the violence? In the Hadiya Pendleton shooting, there were some young people who survived with injuries. Seldom have we heard any status on them!
Did you know the crime victim compensation amounts are the same as when this program was established in the early 1990’s? Did you know that many families are not compensated until years later after the crime? Did you know if a Chicago police officer says your loved one was gang-affiliated, you will not be compensated through the Crime Victims Compensation Program! The red tape involved in getting this assistance is discouraging and also “criminal”. Prior to my daughter’s shootings, I had two jobs to make ends meet. I lost my second job because of the shooting because I spent so much time with my daughter, who was in the hospital for 5 months. Eighteen months after her shooting, I received a paltry $2300.00 from victim’s compensation. By the time I received those few little dollars, I was already in bankruptcy.
All of this while politicians in Springfield get a cost of living increase even if our state is in debt and is not able to pay its bills! I just want you to give some serious thought to these things in your State of the Union Address! Nothing different will happen until we do something different. Keep doing the same thing and you will get the same results.