A National Celebration Marred by Violence

“A culture that takes pride in ignorance and mocks learnedness has a dim future. And those who attempt to make excuses for black social pathology rather than condemning these behaviors in no uncertain terms are part of the problem.” -Jason L. Riley

There is an inherent danger in giving something, anything away for free. Much like the beggar on the street corner doing nothing for his dollar except to stand with a sign. Like the child getting an allowance not for chores or services rendered, but for being a child. It is even akin to the young girl “giving herself” to her ‘boyfriend,’ somehow believing that it will win his loyalty and commitment. It isn’t that the receiver doesn’t appreciate the gift- it’s that they can’t, because he or she has done nothing to earn it.

This has been the challenge for the Black populace and Black communities for many decades, still perpetuated by those in power- even in 2023. For those that are unaware, the celebration known as Juneteenth was born in recognition of June 19th, 1865, the day that news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached the state of Texas
more than two years after its implementation.

The Bigger Picture

While the observance should be solely for ‘the lone star state,’ America at large is forced to honor a day that not only affects one state but ignores its history and significance as well. As a result, annual celebratory events have been marred by violence, assault and murders since the inaugural launch of Juneteenth as a Federal holiday.

According to Yahoo! News, a mere two days after Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federally recognized holiday in 2021, shootings and violence were reported nationwide. In fact, violent incidents related to Juneteenth were reported in California, South Carolina, Michigan and Colorado, while Louisiana and Philadelphia recorded unrelated incidents of shooting.

In all, at least seven people were killed and 21 injured in gun violence over the weekend. The shooting in Oakland, California occurred around 6.30pm about a mile from Lake Merritt Amphitheater, where hundreds had gathered throughout the day to commemorate June 19th, 1865, as the day when roughly 2,000 Union Army soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, with news that enslaved African Americans were now free.

According to CBS News, at least six people were wounded and one person died in the shooting. Soon after, police arrested two men and recovered two firearms. They were arrested after the officials saw them running away from the scene after the shooting, reported the media outlets.

It was not the only incidence of violence recorded on the day relating to Juneteenth. In Colorado, at least one person was killed and four wounded in a mass shooting incident that happened in the parking lot of a strip mall located at 12455 E Mississippi Avenue. The gathering was “related to a Juneteenth celebration” said police in a statement, adding that at least 50 people called 911 to report an “active shooter in the shopping mall parking lot.””

In 2022, WTTW news in Chicago reported the following:

More than 60 people were shot, 10 fatally, over the Juneteenth holiday weekend across Chicago.

“Chicago police said 61 people were shot in 44 separate shootings between 6 p.m. Friday and 11:59 p.m. Monday night. That included five people wounded in a mass shooting Friday night and an 18-year-old killed Monday afternoon.”

The mass shooting occurred at around 11:45 p.m. Friday as a group of people stood in a parking lot in the 3000 block of South Rhodes Avenue. According to police, an unknown shooter opened fire, striking four men and one woman. All five victims were hospitalized in good condition.

Minutes later, a 22-year-old man was killed as he sat in the passenger side of a vehicle in the 2300 block of West Harrison Street. Police said someone in another vehicle began firing shots at the man, striking him in the lower back. He was taken to Stroger Hospital where he died.

A 40-year-old man was found on the sidewalk with gunshot wounds to the head and body in the 700 block of West 73rd Street just after 3:30a.m. Sunday morning. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition, but later died.

A 36-year-old man was killed at around 8:30 p.m. Sunday when he was shot in the head while standing in the 6400 block of South Marshfield Avenue. Police said two vehicles were seen fleeing the area after the shooting, but it’s unclear if they were involved.

Two more people were shot inside the kitchen of a home in the 2100 block of South Lawndale Avenue just before 2a.m. Monday. The victims, ages 17 and 37, were standing inside when a man opened fire through a window from a rear porch. The teen was struck in the leg and hospitalized in serious condition, while the 37-year-old was struck in the chest and killed. Police said the shooter was known to the victims, but no one is currently in custody.

A 36-year-old man was fatally shot as he sat inside a parked vehicle at around noon Monday in the 5400 block of West Hadden Avenue.”

In a CNN article from 2023, multiple shootings left many wounded and at least one person dead.

“At least one person was killed, and 22 others were injured by gunfire overnight in Illinois, in a peaceful Juneteenth celebration turned deadly, police say.

An unknown number of suspects fired multiple rounds from multiple weapons into the large crowd of people gathered to celebrate Juneteenth, according to a statement from the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office.

Several other victims were injured in the chaos as people attempted to flee the area, and victims are being treated at hospitals in the area, the sheriff’s office said.

No suspects are in custody, police said.

The shooting took place around 12:30 a.m. in a parking lot in Willowbrook, about 21 miles west of Chicago.”

With all that has transpired over the last several years, if you’re not concerned- you’re not paying attention.

Regardless of how things may appear, the focus can never be on the what or the how. In fact, not even the when, who or where. The answer always lies squarely within the why. Why does such violence, mayhem and bloodshed
consistently come from a day of celebration? Good question. We must seek the answer.

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