Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin…We get emotional when a police officer or a white person kills a black person, but we ought to also get emotional when a black person kills another black person.
She has lost four sons to gun violence. No one has gone to prison. Do these black lives matter?
Phyllis Gray in 2005 after her third son, Carlos Phillips, was shot and killed. On Sept. 17, a fourth son, Alonzo Phillips, 31, was killed at a community barbecue in Southeast Washington. (Susan Biddle/The Washington Post)
By Petula Dvorak Columnist September 26 at 2:00 PM
The fourth time around, it doesn’t get any easier to bury a son lost to gun violence.
Phyllis Gray is 53 and tired. Tired of the calls, tired of the funerals, tired of T-shirts with the faces of four dead sons. Tired of no justice.
She tried to lift her spirits a bit over the weekend with a new haircut, but, of course, it didn’t help.
“Justice is what I want,” she told me, leaning against the fence outside her apartment building on a leafy street in Southeast Washington, where three young boys — like hers once were — played soccer on the small lawn.
For the fourth time in her life, Gray got the news that a son had been gunned down on a D.C. street.
And as the nation’s elite — a president and a former president, billionaires, lawmakers and celebrities — gathered just a few miles away to celebrate the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gray was stuck in a cycle all too familiar in her neighborhood.
Violence, silence. Violence, silence.
Over and over.
The first time she became a grieving mother was in February 2001, when her son Samuel Phillips, 23, was killed at a D.C. halfway house.
A suspect was arrested, but before his trial began in 2004, Gray got the call again. Samuel’s 21-year-old brother, Demetrius, one of the prosecution’s witnesses, was killed.
No one was convicted in either son’s death, Gray said.
I met Gray the day before Thanksgiving 11 years ago, right after she received the same call a third time.
On a November night it was Carlos Phillips, 26, who was living in an apartment that his mom kept up for him because she said the father of nine was mentally disabled.
Again, for 11 years, there was no justice. And Gray kept working as a home health-care aide, and her remaining four children got older, finished school, gave her grandbabies.
And then the call came again this month.
It was her fourth son, Scorpio-Rodney Alonzo Phillips. He made it to age 31. Like his three dead brothers, he’d gotten into trouble with the law. But for the past five years, he’d been living a relatively quiet life. He worked as a landscaper, rooted for the Redskins and had a daughter who just started first grade.
On Sept. 17, he was at Dorsey Day, an annual neighborhood block party at Barry Farm, where there was barbecue, a bounce house and go-go bands.
About 8 p.m., when the party was going strong, two men pulled up, unloaded their guns into the crowd and sped off. Nine people were shot, two of them died.
Still, no arrests. Do these black lives matter?
There will be a candlelight vigil for Phillips this week, but no protests. No outrage. Just resignation.
It’s a complex problem, this persistent cycle of violence that plagues America’s poorest neighborhoods. The victims and shooters are mostly young black men.
Homicide rates may rise and fall — heck, D.C. went from 248 homicides in 2003 to 88 in 2012, then back up to 162 last year — but the rate at which they are solved stays relatively the same, which is about 60 percent nationwide.
And it’s that heartbreaking lack of closure that helps feed the cycle of mistrust and, sometimes, of people exacting their own form of street justice.
Violence, then silence, then violence again.
Detectives often struggle to solve crimes in places where mistrust for the police runs deep. Phyllis Gray knows the deadly repercussions of talking to police all too well, after one son was killed as he was about to testify about the death of another.
So the detectives ask questions, no one talks and no one is arrested, let alone convicted. And the lack of justice only deepens the divide between the community and those who are sworn to protect it.
In Southeast Washington, many people describe being hassled or harassed by officers. How does a community trust police who have pulled a son over a dozen times, but can’t find his killer after that horrific call comes?
In Charlotte, in Baton Rouge, in Dallas, in Baltimore, in Ferguson, protesters demand accountability when a black man gets killed at the hands of police under questionable circumstances. And justifiably so.
But Phyllis Gray and mothers like her still want police to solve the killings of their sons. In their neighborhoods, black lives matter also means finding a way to end the cycle of violence, then silence.
The country’s murder rate jumped more last year than it had in nearly half a century, newly released federal crime data showed, although the number of homicides remained far below the levels of the 1980s and ’90s….Fueling the surge in murders was street violence in a handful of major cities, notably Baltimore, Chicago, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee, where most of the victims were young African-American males. The F.B.I. reported that guns were used in nearly three-quarters of the nation’s 15,696 murders during 2015.
Police officials and criminologists say there is no single explanation for the increase nationally, but point to disputes that more often end in gun violence and turf battles over a growing, and highly profitable, heroin trade.
China Kinebrew, 6, takes a short break during her occupational therapy appointment with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Tuesday Dec. 8, 2015. China was shot July 6, 2015 in Avondale. The shooting left her paralyzed and without her left eye. (Photo: Cara Owsley)
[Patti] Sharp started therapy with China on Oct. 19. Back then, China was unable to sit without support.
“She was like a crumbled shell of a girl – weak, scared, angry and no control,’’ Sharp says.
She’s come a long way.
But there’s so, so much farther to go.
The goal for China is to make sure that she can, eventually, take care of herself. That means bathing and dressing herself. Eventually, it will mean she will be able to cook for herself and maintain her own home.
“She’s so smart and so strong. I have no doubt that she’ll be able to do whatever she wants, it will be just in a different way,’’ Sharp says. “I have no doubt that when she decides to do this, she will fly.”
Valerie Dent, 62, a retired factory worker in St. Louis, helps make those calls in her city. Her sons, James and Steven, were shot and killed one morning last fall after coming home from working the night shift at a talcum-powder factory. Gun violence, she said, has done more to grind up black families, like hers, than any kind of aggressive policing. As with Temple’s son’s case, her sons’ murders are unsolved.
“It becomes a way of life — to hear gunshots and close the door,” Dent said. “We get all in an uproar when the police kill someone. If we had that get-up-and-go on the black-on-black crimes, maybe we could stop some of this.”
Baby girl Aavielle Wakefield, who was just five months old, has been shot dead in Cleveland
Man charged with murdering nine-year-old girl by ‘shooting into her house from outside as she sat on mom’s bed doing homework’
Shooting: De’Eris Brown, 21, has been charged with second-degree murder over the death of Jamyla Bolden, nine
Eugene Puryear, a local activist with the Stop Police Terror Project, and other activists who attended the event, said the mayor’s initiatives do too little to address what he called the driving forces behind the District’s spiking violence.
“I think poverty, deprivation, the concentration of socially deprived neighborhoods — that is the key factor,” he said.
He and other activists, including Franklyn Malone, a local community leader, accused the mayor of doing too little to acknowledge the role that a rapid tide of gentrification in recent years has played in stoking feelings of anger, isolation and hopelessness among black youths in the District, who activists say are more likely to turn to violent crime when they feel they have no other options.
“The city is becoming a city of haves and have nots, and some people are feeling left out,” Malone said.
Black mom ‘ Peggy Hubbard ‘ talks about Ferguson and Protests
The Ferguson Commission won’t bring social change. Black Lives Matter will
Geaux62 2h ago
Sorry. Can’t take any article serious that continues to imply that Michael Brown was not responsible for his own death. He was a punk criminal that attacked a police officer after committing a petty crime. What should officer Wilson have done? Let him walk away(he wasn’t)? Should he have told himself after having bones in his face broken and a criminal going after his gun, “It’s ok. This is just another misguided youth from a broken home who deserves my understanding.” Why should whites care about Black Lives when it’s obvious that blacks don’t care much about their own lives (Chicago)? The author would better serve his race by going out publicly and telling his brothers that if they would just stop committing crimes, the likelihood of them being killed by a police officer would be dramatically reduced. These BLM folks are just opportunistic anarchists. They don’t even know what they want other than chaos.
“One of the disturbing things that has come to light is how people on the scene of the accident were saying that the police had no business chasing these guys and are blaming the police,” said Cochran, a former police officer. “But who do you chase if you don’t chase a murderer? . . . Rather than saying the gunman had no business going to shoot and kill somebody, they were saying the police had no business chasing them.”
By MARGERY A. BECK
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A 12-year-old boy has been charged with first degree murder in the fatal shooting of a man in Omaha, Nebraska.
The boy is one of three suspects charged in the June 29 shooting near Miller Park that killed 31-year-old Jamymell Ray. Two other suspects, aged 15 and 17, were arrested last week.
All three have been charged with first-degree murder and various weapons counts.
Tipped off by investigators in Omaha, the U.S. Marshal’s office in Minneapolis conducted surveillance at several homes in the city, and eventually spotted the 12-year-old boy walking on a street around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Omaha police said in a statement.
He was arrested without incident and is expected to be extradited to Nebraska, police said.
Prosecutors say Ray was shot when the boy and two teens lured him and another man to the area on the premise of a marijuana deal, and that the young men had planned a robbery.
It is not yet clear who shot Ray, but prosecutors say all three boys showed the men guns and at least two weapons were fired during the attack. Police have found two guns and are looking for a third, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said Tuesday.
The other man, 30-year-old Charles Fisher, was wounded, and authorities say the 17-year-old is suspected of shooting him at close range.
Court documents including arrest affidavits have been sealed from public view, which is common in Nebraska for suspects under the age of 18. The Associated Press generally does not name juveniles accused of crimes.
John Jedlicka, a public defender appointed to represent the 17-year-old suspect, said Wednesday that he had not seen the arrest documents and that it was too early to say whether he’d seek to have the case transferred to juvenile court.
A Douglas County prosecutor, Jim Masteller, said Wednesday that a change in state law that took effect Jan. 1 requires anyone under 14 to be charged in juvenile court, meaning the 12-year-old suspect cannot be tried as an adult.
Online court records do not indicate that the 12-year-old suspect has an attorney.
6/1/2015 11:07 AM EDT [Edited]
What upset me the most is, we as Blacks always crying race… This young woman was killed by Blacks (Men) in her own neighborhood. And we wonder why the police is killing Blacks. Because we act like animals. The Baltimore riots were not about justice. They started rioting because they saw a chance to act like wild animals. We as Blacks don’t care if someone get killed especially if one of our own people is the killer. But if a White or any other nationality kills a Black person its a opportunity for us to riot, march, and protest. Where are the marches and protest now??? Huh??? Where are the people who know who did this but are such a Punk to step forward. I live in SE, Ward 8 and I am so tired of this BS. DC gov’t need to get rid of Public Housing Ward 8 need to be gentrified because for years and years this same BS has been happening and its not going to get better until we push unwanted and un-need people out. For those who try to act like loyal citizens by caring for their neighborhoods, working, raising their kids respectably, and paying taxes but need a little help, they are fine, but it is time to get rid of the rats and roaches. Let me go to VA so they can go to jail for years. I Pray for this Young Woman’s family. I Pray for the person or persons who is responsible. I Pray that Justice will be served in this case.
5/30/2015 1:38 PM EST
So much easier to try to assign some blame to a big institution than to put ALL the responsibility where it belongs – on the idiot knuckleheads who engage in the nonsense. The Post had no role in Ms. Milton’s death; it was entirely on those stupid gangbangers. Oh and by the way, I’m black and I wouldn’t have minded The Post publishing a site like homicidewatch.com, even if it did show blacks were committing most of the homicides. That’s nothing new.
5/29/2015 8:18 PM EDT [Edited]
Sad. A young-woman with talent, brains, education, commitment, work-ethic, confidence, sympathy, people-skills, and quality. Now WaPo….her death was no accident – it was the result of mayhem and nihilist chaos in an urban Ghetto jungle and it’s been going on for years – something you’ve been systematically ignoring, sympathizing with, or covering up, making you complicit in the violence. Look at the deaths WaPo…you remember the site you helped kill….homicidewatch.com? that kept track of all those deaths in DC…till it became evident all the victims and the suspect perps were Black, and that was just too embarrassing for the politically correct to allow it to continue? Maybe you need to resurrect that site…and then begin a serious campaign to change the mores of the community which is causing these outrages.
5/29/2015 10:32 AM EDT
Very sad ending to a promising young journalist. My thoughts are with her family and friends.
4:07 PM EST
So now the cops are causing young black men to shoot each other by NOT showing up and harassing them. The black community is going NOWHERE until it gets its young men under control.
Mugshot of aggravated sexual assault of a child suspect Robert Cayald. (credit: Dallas Police Department)