Community Calls for “Cease Fire” After Recent 2-Year-Old’s Murder
Photos by: Emani Rashad Nichols, Forward Times Intern
The killing of innocent children sends a ripple effect into any village that has raised them, and that issue is a cross that the Greater Houston community has had to bear after senseless acts of violence have claimed the lives of too many Black youth over the past year.
This epidemic has created a plea from many activists, family members and members of the community to stop the violence and come together in unity on behalf of these innocent young lives who were taken away from us, well before they even got a true chance to experience life.The family is requesting that in lieu of flowers, that charitable donations be submitted to the Texas Southern University Athletic Department, 3100 Cleburne Street, Houston, Texas, 77004, or to Shape Community Center, PO Box 8428, Houston, Texas, 77288.
Jazmine Barnes (7), Kamren Jones (11), Ivory West (2) and Maleah Davis (4) are just some of the innocent young Black children who have had their lives tragically taken from us within the past year. These were Black youth who had a promising future, but had their future hopes and dreams ripped away from them and their families by horrific acts of violence, namely being tragically shot by random bullets that weren’t meant for them.
According to reports, there have been 14 children struck down by gunfire in Houston and surrounding areas since the beginning of 2019. This follows a year in 2018 that saw 23 violent crimes committed against minors. Though some of these crimes have yet to be solved, law enforcement officials have attributed many of these crimes to cases of mistaken identity.
As a result of the irresponsible decisions made by these criminals, a press conference was held with a call to action for the community to address this issue and bring attention to the necessity of change.
This past Tuesday, press conference organizer and community activist Deric Muhammad, along with many other activists, community leaders, concerned citizens and family members of the victims, came together in unity to shed light on these tragedies and to focus on solutions to address this epidemic swiftly.
“The greatest indictment on any community is the inability of it to protect its children,” said press conference organizer and community activist Deric Muhammad. “If you can’t protect your children, then you can’t protect your future. Seeing a baby in a baby casket is not something that I’m willing to get used to. It is with that focus that we came together with one voice to say ‘Cease-Fire: Stop the Killing of Our Children’”
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a “cease-fire” is “a suspension of active hostilities” and is further defined as “an order or signal to stop fighting” between two parties.
A “cease-fire” is truly needed, because not only has there been an increased level of violence and hostility, there has also been an increased loss of innocent, young Black children’s lives in the Greater Houston area.
On July 2, 2-year-old Ivory West was murdered in the garage of his home in Spring, Texas, after being fatally shot by two men during an apparent home invasion that also wounded his father and his father’s friend. The killers are still on the loose.
The community has had to rehash the tragic drive-by shooting death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, who was shot in the head as she and her three sisters sat in their mother’s car while going to the store, after one of the men accused of killing her is back on the streets after being recently released on bond.
And of course, the community is still feeling the sting of receiving the chilling news that 4-year-old Maleah Davis’ remains were discovered on the side of the road in Arkansas.
One of the recent tragedies that was highlighted at the “Cease-Fire” press conference was that of 11-year old Kamren Jones, who was struck down by a stray bullet by some unknown gunmen who targeted his family’s home as he was sleeping in a room with his siblings. Police have concluded that this incident was a case of mistaken identity.
Kamren’s father, Kenyatta Jones, urges people to know that incidents like this can happen to them too if they aren’t aware of the environment they are placing their children in.
“There was no way that I thought this could happen to me,” said Kenyatta. “I took all the precautions to protect my kids, and tried my best to keep them safe, but I was still became a victim to a senseless crime.”
Additionally, Kenyatta Jones believes the entire community must look out for each other, in spite of any respective differences that may exist.
“My neighbors never really told me what was happening in that house before I came there,” Kenyatta said. “I feel like if you see a family moving into a house, that used to be a trap house, you need to tell them.”
Nationally-recognized hip-hop recording artist Paul Wall shared his thoughts on the issue, stating that these killings are not just affecting the families of the victims, but are having a ripple effect on everybody else, including other children being affected at their schools and in their communities.
“Just to speak from the heart, I believe we all need to look within ourselves instead of pointing fingers about who is responsible for this,” Paul Wall lamented. “It’s our responsibility, so as a community, we need to look within and ask what can I do to stop this? Hate only breeds more hate. This is our city and we have to take it upon ourselves to do something. We have got to do something.”
Houston has held various efforts and initiatives to stop the violence in the Bayou City, and continues to put an emphasis on dealing with the violence in the city just like a number of other cities that are calling for an end to gun violence, such as the cities of Baltimore and Chicago. Since 2017, these two cities, along with several other cities across the U.S., have put forth exalted efforts to create peace in their communities.
Deric Muhammad believes more attention must be placed on reaching out to those who are committing these violent crimes and seek ways to change the mindset of those who feel that these acts of criminal intent are necessary.
“I think the lack of knowledge of self is the number one problem we have, because everything starts in the mind,” Deric shared. “If you can reform a man’s thinking, you can reform his activity.”
The Greater Houston community is hoping Deric Muhammad is right, and that the mindset truly does change so that the violence will cease, and more importantly, so that no more Black youth become the unintended victims of that violence.
Miana Massey, Forward Times Intern, was a contributor to this article.