As the Fourth of July weekend saw at least five children shot and killed, many of their grieving families have pleaded with the Black Lives Matter movement to address violence within communities, not just deaths at the hands of police.
Eleven-year-old Davon McNeal was shot and killed in Washington, D.C. on the Fourth of July. His grandfather is calling for protesters to acknowledge violence that has nothing to do with police.
“We’re protesting for months, for weeks, saying black lives matter,” said John Ayala, who identified himself as McNeal’s paternal grandfather. “Black lives matter, it seems like, only when a police officer shoots a black person. What about all the black-on-black crime that’s happening in the community?”
John Ayala, tells @fox5dc he’s 11-year-old Davon McNeal’s paternal grandfather. Ayala says his grandson dreamed of being in the NFL & that everyone’s just tired of shootings in the community. He also mentions the Black Lives Matter protests in part of his interview. @fox5dc pic.twitter.com/ajrX7q5YkO
— Stephanie Ramirez (@RamirezReports) July 5, 2020
According to his family, McNeal had stopped to pick up a phone charger before heading to a cookout when he was shot at by a group of five males. It’s not known whether the suspects have been identified.
Secoriea Turner, an 8-year-old girl from Atlanta, was also killed Saturday. She was shot across the street from the Wendy’s restaurant where a police officer shot Rayshard Brooks last month. Turner was in the car with her mother and a friend when they pulled into a parking lot and were met by a “group of armed individuals” at the entrance. Police reported that a crowd had set up barricades in the area after police had previously taken them down, and that someone from the group shot Turner’s car multiple times after the driver tried to get around the roadblocks.
Turner’s parents spoke out against the violent demonstrators after her death. “They say black lives matter,” said her father, Secoriya Williamson. “You killed your own this time.”
“We understand the frustration of Rayshard Brooks,” added Turner’s mother, Charmaine Turner. “We didn’t have anything to do with that. We’re innocent.”
— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) July 5, 2020
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also criticized those anti-police protests which had turned deadly.
“These aren’t police officers shooting people on the streets of Atlanta, these are members of the community shooting each other,” Bottoms said. “We’re fighting the enemy within when we are shooting each other up on the streets.”
“You shot and killed a baby,” she continued. “If you want people to take us seriously, and you don’t want us to lose this movement, then we can’t lose each other.”
Bottoms has also been suggested as a potential vice presidential candidate for Joe Biden.
Natalia Wallace, age seven, was shot and killed while playing with other children in the yard in Chicago over the holiday weekend. Three suspects got out of a car and opened fire at the group, striking Wallace in the head.
Her father, Nathan Wallace, told local news media that he wants more police, not less, in Chicago. “Kids outside playing, they shouldn’t have to worry about guns and people shooting,” he added.
Natalie Wallace, Natalia’s aunt, also pointed out the disconnect between the Black Lives Matter movement and the realities of community violence. “We talk about Black Lives Matter,” she said, “but at the end of the day, we’re killing each other off. We’re killing our babies.”
Eight-year-old Royta De’Marco Giles was shot and killed in a Hoover, Alabama mall, when several men got into a fight and started shooting at each other. Giles was “caught in the crossfire,” according to a Hoover Police Department news release.
A six-year-old boy in San Francisco was shot and killed while watching fireworks. He has yet to be formally identified, but family says his name is Jace Young.
In a press briefing on Monday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany called out the media for failing to address the weekend’s shootings. “I’m a little dismayed that I didn’t receive one question on the deaths that we got in this country this weekend,” McEnany said at the end of the briefing, after reporters asked about the Confederate flag and the Coronavirus pandemic. “I didn’t receive one question about five children who were killed.”