I keep seeing critics on social media and elsewhere asking, “Where is the outrage? Where is Black Lives Matter?”
I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will: Even if we don’t take to the streets in protest, don’t think for a second that we are not furious over what happened to 7-year-old Zamar Jones, who was fatally wounded by a stray bullet while playing on his front porch Saturday night.
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As a city, we grieve for his family and for his fellow second graders at KIPP Philadelphia Elementary Academy who have lost a classmate.
We mourn for that little boy just as we do for all of the innocent children struck by gunfire — three children were shot in separate incidents in Philadelphia on July 5 alone.
We weep for them and for the way that the proliferation of illegal guns has scarred this city. There are way too many guns, and they are too easy to get. As Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said, “As long as our communities are flooded with firearms and as long as the conditions exist that spur people to pick them up with little care for their futures, these tragedies will occur.”
So, don’t put it out there that Black people don’t care about Black on Black crime and only galvanize when a white cop is involved. That’s not true.
Also, don’t assume that we are all caught up in the no-snitching thing and refuse to cooperate with the police. I know plenty of folks who wouldn’t hesitate to turn in Zamar’s killers. My Facebook timeline is littered with the mug shots of two alleged accomplices — Damar Bashier Jones, 27, of Southwest Philadelphia, and Michael Banks, 30, of Darby Borough, who police say were involved in the gunfight on the 200 block of North Simpson Street where Zamar was shot. (A third suspect, Christopher Linder, 27, already is in custody.)
Philadelphia Cure Violence (formerly CeaseFire Philadelphia) has organized an emergency community meeting for 6 p.m. Thursday, near where Zamar was shot. Coronavirus pandemic or not, I predict the street will be packed that evening with people who are fed up with what happened to Zamar and other recent homicides.
“We are living in some real dangerous times,” Colwin Williams, a street supervisor with Philadelphia Cure Violence, told me. “Whenever our children are victimized, they can’t come sit on their porch, it’s heartbreaking.”
Now, for the people on social media and elsewhere who push back by asking, “Where’s Black Lives Matter?” That’s a common refrain and one that I see a lot — not just in Zamar’s case but in others.
It’s an easy dig to make, but one that ignores the fact that the BLM movement, which was founded in 2013 in response to the killing of Trayvon Martin, is a national one that largely focuses on issues of racial injustice and police brutality as opposed to street crime.
No matter how many times activists try to explain, some folks just don’t get the distinction. Maybe if the name, which evolved from a hashtag, were something like End Racial Injustice, critics and others wouldn’t be so confused about the group’s focus, which is to “eradicate white supremacy” and protest police violence against Blacks.
But all of that deflection takes away from what’s most important here — the loss of a child’s life. There’s a precious photo of Zamar floating around social media that reportedly was taken during career day at his school earlier this year. In it, he’s smiling while holding up a piece of white paper with the words of what he aspired to be when he grew up.
It said: “#FuturePoliceOfficer.”