ABOVE: Community activist Deric Muhammad speaks on panel to address gun violence at the “Keeping Our Children Safe: How Do We Prevent Gun Violence in Our Communities and Schools?”community forum as Council Member Dwight Boykins and rapper Scarface look on
On February 28th, the Forward Times published a thought-provoking and timely article entitled, “Guns in Schools: Are Our Kids Truly Safe?” where we highlighted the issue of gun violence and stated our plans to be a part of these discussions surrounding any new developments regarding this important issue of gun violence in our country.
The day after that article was published an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl were victims of a drive-by shooting from a semiautomatic assault rifle in the parking lot of a nail salon, as they sat in the car waiting for their mother to return in Houston’s historic Third Ward on Scott Street near Wheeler. According to the Houston Police Department (HPD), the young boy was critically injured after being shot in the head and the girl was shot in the leg.
Investigators believe the incident was possibly gang-related, but are still investigating and looking for the perpetrators to get more information and details. Meanwhile, HPD says that as of the date of this article being published, no arrests have been made in the case.
As the incident was taking place, District D Council Member Dwight Boykins, who represents the district where the shooting took place, was putting the finishing touches on the community town hall meeting that the Forward Times reported he would be holding on the Monday after the article was published.
The news of the shooting came as a tremendous blow to Boykins, as he could be seen at the scene of the shooting in front of television cameras crying.
“This is a sad situation all the way around,” said Boykins. “We don’t know all the facts, but somebody came by and sprayed that car with about 19 to 20 bullets and hit two of those three children…one in the head and one in the leg. Apparently there was a shooting earlier that day right up the road, so they don’t know if it is retaliation or what, but something has got to be done about the access to the number of deadly guns people are getting their hands on in this country.”
Boykins held his community forum, “Keeping Our Children Safe: How Do We Prevent Gun Violence in Our Communities and Schools?”, at the Greater Grace Outreach Church off of Scott Street in southeast Houston this past Monday, where a number of community leaders and concerned citizens gathered to have an emotional discussion about gun violence in our communities.
Boykins had several panels and invited local pastors, Houston Police Department (HPD), Harris County Sheriff’s Department, Precinct 7 Constable Office, Houston Independent School District (HISD) Police, Texas Southern University (TSU) Police, University of Houston (UofH) Police, Houston Community College (HCC) Police, HISD Superintendent, District D School Principals, KIPP, and many more to participate in this much-needed discussion.
One of Houston’s hip-hop legends, Brad Jordan aka Scarface from the successful Houston rap group Geto Boys, was one of the participants on the first panel, along with local community activists Deric Muhammad, Reginald Gordon “OG1” and Gerry Monroe.
The second panel featured ministers, where Student Minister Abdul Haleem Muhammad was joined by Pastor James Nash, Minister Johnny Jeremiah and others.
The third panel featured members of law enforcement, such as HPD Executive Assistant Police Chief Troy Finner, Constable Mae Walker and others.
During the Q&A and comments portion of the town hall, one mother rose to talk about the tragedy she had suffered, as two of her sons had been killed in two different parts of Houston as a result of gun violence. There was not a dry eye in the building, as panelists and attendees came over to the mother to offer her comfort as she continues to grieve the loss of her two children.
Boykins has called on national lawmakers to address this issue and states that it is time for the state of Texas to take gun laws more seriously.
“It is our responsibility to protect the people from any policies that can have a negative impact on any resident in this country, especially in the city of Houston where I serve,” said Houston City District D Councilmember Dwight A. Boykins. “I am a proud outdoorsman and supporter of the right to bear arms, but I am also an elected leader who serves to promote policies that enhance the safety and security of my constituents.”
Boykins believes that federal elected officials must acknowledge the common sense notion that implementing effective gun control measures does not have to interfere with private gun ownership, but that we must put the safety of children and the citizens first above all things.
“I want to thank everyone who came out for this important community conversation on protecting our children from gun violence within the community,” said Boykins. “We started the conversation and now we are ready to take action within the community. We have to save our children, no matter the cost.”
One of the primary takeaways from the town hall was that realistic solutions were presented and there was a willingness by all parties to work collaboratively to deal with this issue at the grassroots level in a proactive and realistic way. There was also an emphasis on creating opportunities for the youth through career education and providing other resources.
As stated, the Forward Times will continue to remain on the frontline to deal with this issue of gun violence in our community.