Mere miles from a forum held to address black gun violence in Tampa Bay, Florida, two blacks are shot dead. [2 shot dead on day of Tampa gun violence forum: ‘We’re killing each other’: A top-ranking Black officer acknowledges fear of retaliation, but replies, “It’s going to take your phone call. It’s gonna take your tips to reduce the shootings.”, TampaBay.com, December 29, 2021]:
A mother caught in gunfire while walking home with her 12-year-old son. A teacher whose students struggle to stay awake in class because shootings keep them up at night. A teenager who watched her sister die after both girls were shot just weeks before Christmas.
One by one, the stories of Tampa people devastated by gun violence reverberated through the Jackson Heights YET Center gym during a community forum Tuesday night attended by more than 50 people and organized by the Tampa Police Department.
The forum, led by interim Police Chief Ruben “Butch” Delgado, comes as Tampa faces an uptick in shootings and homicides. As of Dec. 7, 214 people had been shot in 2021, 45 of them homicides, police data shows. That compares to 37 homicides at the same time last year.
Two more people were shot to death in Tampa in the hours before the Tuesday forum, one of them just 2 miles from the Jackson Heights center. Both victims were male, 16 and 18. Homicides for the year now total 48.
The forum was the first of a series of community conversations police will host across the city bringing the community and law enforcement together to address the scourge.
“I’ll do these in every community until we don’t have to do them anymore,” Delgado said.
Co-founder of Rise Up For Peace, a nonprofit working to reduce gun violence in Tampa, Brown started the organization after her 27-year-old son, Devantè, was fatally shot last year when he was caught in gunfire while walking near the apartment complex where he lived.
Brown helped organize the Tuesday forum, and as she spoke, she fought back tears.
“I’m begging and I’m pleading with you,” she said. “We’re afraid to walk out of our doors, we don’t know what’s going to happen. We got to do something about this. We’re killing each other.”
There’s not a community in America that is majority white where this type of insanity is replicated. Protecting those who engage in criminality is not a particular trait found within the white community, but it appears to be a pathology uniquely black.