Dear Chicago | Mother Buries Four Children


Chrycka Harper, Poet & Literary CriticLast Modified: 22:03 p.m. DST, 05 June 2014

This post is inspired by a DailyMail article, “Tears of a Mother who lost her FOUR Children to Chicago's Gun Crime Epidemic”

Dear Chicago,

Chicago River, North Shore Drive, Photo by David B. Gleason

Its been awhile since we last spoke on the Yard at Howard University, I remember you telling me about your dreams, strengths, and adversaries. Your style is unforgettable Your dialect is amicable Lifestyle and life view of the world deserves much respect. My eyes crinkle in smiles when someone proudly yells “south side” or “north side!”

But the news sees your beauty through grotesque eyes: Gun violence. The artificial newscasters utter shreds of murders and guns and blood and victims, But I know my Chicago is not inherently evil or menacing. I will admit the heart of the city is not pumping efficiently, but Chicago will tell you to not to spoil the body with contempt and hatred.

Shut up about Chicago, and hear its voice. Hear the twang in their step and language. Hear the rich black folks music. Hear the pride and the respect. The winds carrying their voices.... That's your beauty, Chicago!

I will not forget about your mother who buried her last child lost to gun violence. While I realize your feening to mourn, you have to keep speaking about the truth of your history to the world.

Keep me posted Chicago. May the grieving find comfort In the beat of the very heart that will save your city.

Sincerely, Chrycka

Follow Chrycka Harper on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Poet & Literary Critic: @chrycka_harper

Chicago Infant Shot 5 Times in Driveby Dies


Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 02:57 a.m. DST, 14 March 2013

Baby Jonylah Watkins, Chicago Infant, Unsolved Homicide

CHICAGO, Illinois - When the words, “There is always somebody getting shot in this neighborhood…” become normal, there is clearly a problem that is not being solved.

On Monday, 11 March 2013, 6-month-old, Jonylah Watkins was shot while her father had been changing her diaper in the families mini-van. According to the Huffington Post, the infant died Tuesday morning in a Chicago hospital.

The Huffington Post reports the infant was rushed to Comer Children’s Hospital on Monday afternoon in serious critical condition. The father of the child, Jonathan Watkins, was also shot and wounded during the drive-by.

The infant had bullet wounds to the lung, liver, leg, shoulder, and intestines, the Huffington Post states. According to DNAinfo Chicago, at least five hours of surgery had been performed since Jonylah’s arrival to Children’s Hospital.

Jonathan Watkins was struck in the side as well as the buttocks, and grazed on the cheek. Another van waited as the shooter fled the scene moments after the deadly shooting. When police arrived on the scene Watkins was immediately transported to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious condition, the Huffington Post reports.

The spokesman for the Watkins’ family, Rev. Corey Brooks, announced the infants passing in a statement to the press on Tuesday, 12 March 2013. “We have another tragedy in the city of Chicago”, says Brooks. He continues with, “The city of Chicago should be outraged that in our city a 6-month old baby could be shot and killed”.

A reward for the capturing of the killer has been donated by Brooks’ New Beginnings Church out of the Woodlawn neighborhood and another community group. The reward is set at $6,000 as of now.

Jonathan Watkins spoke to the Chicago Sun Times on Tuesday, stating he was unaware of who could have targeted him and his daughter, and their reasons why. Other sources informed the Times that it could have been a result of a Facebook post. According to CNN, the infant’s father has gang affiliations that may have prompted the shooting.

The Associated Press released a statement form Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy that stated police were not certain about Watkins’ cooperation in the case. The police department feels Watkins was targeted and is investigating the alleged Facebook post.

The Huffington Post reported the mother of the infant, Judy Watkins, was shot while carrying the child. During Monday’s shooting, she was working at McDonald’s. The couple had recently got married, reports read.

Dominique Young, a relative of the family spoke to ABC Chicago. “There is always someone getting shot in this neighborhood. We are close together, and we know them. There are killings all the time.” Attention has been brought to the city of Chicago because of it rising homicides.

In January alone, 40 homicides were reported by police; followed by 56 in February. According to McCarthy, compared to last year’s statistics, homicides are down by 26 percent.

A social campaign established by Chicago native, Bryant Cross, has been flooded with submissions since Jonylah’s shooting. The campaign focuses on getting the message of anti-violence out to citizens.

An arrest has not been made in connections to assault of Jonathan Watkins who is in critical condition, or the fatal shooting of his infant daughter, Jonylah Watkins.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe

Chicago Teen Fatally Shot After Obama Gun Violence Speech


Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 12:53 p.m. EDT, 21 February 2013

Chicago Child Mourns Gun Violence Victim, Photo by Ashlee RezinCHICAGO, IL. - Hours after President Barak Obama gave his Inaugural speech, in which he pushed for tighter gun control laws; a young woman was fatally shot only one mile from the President’s Chicago home.

The victim was 18-year old Janay Mcfarlane. Earlier that day, McFarlane’s 14 year-old sister witnessed the President’s Inaugural speech, after he was sworn in on 21 January 2013.

Mcfarlane was shot in the head at approximately 11:30 p.m., Friday, 21 January 2013, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The victim had a 3-month old son, and was visiting friends and family in a North Chicago suburb. McFarlane’s mother said the bullet that killed her daughter was meant for a friend.

Police are questioning two suspects who are believed to be in connection with McFarlane’s shooting; however, charges have yet to be filed. Media spoke with Mcfarlane’s mother, Angela Blakely, as she grieved for her daughter, expressing, “I really feel like somebody cut a part of my heart out”.

Just one month ago, another fatal shooting involving 15-year old Hadiya Pendleton shook Chicago residents. The honor student was killed last month in a South Side Chicago park. According to Chicago police, it was a case of mistaken identity, and two suspects have been charged. Not only have there been more than 40 homicides in Chicago during the month of January alone, this makes the death toll the highest in 10 years.

Mcfarlane was affected by Pendleton’s death, as she often expressed to her mother how she felt bad for the victim’s family. Little did she know, she would also be a victim of gun violence. This case, as of many, is still open. Each day action is not taken regarding gun laws, the United States must hear another story such as this one. The media is focusing more on the fact that Mcfarlane’s sister was at President Obama’s gun violence speech. In order to stop reporters like me and others from having to write stories out like this, more than platitudinous speeches need to be delivered.

The fault does not lie entirely with President Obama, but with a society that believes that the right to bear arms/guns, especially those which exceed what is required for protection, such as automatic assault weapons, trumps all other concerns. This thinking, coupled with the powerful and deep pocketed lobbying on behalf of the National Riffle Association (NRA), makes the task of addressing this problem at a granular and thus meaningful level nearly impossible despite evidence that tighter gun control laws do result in decreased rates of gun homicides.

In the United Kingdom firearms are tightly controlled by law and it has one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world with 0.07 recorded intentional homicides committed with a firearm per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010 compared to the United States' 5.1 (over 40 times higher). (Source: Wikipedia)

The numbers speak for themselves, and if we hope to one day stop reporting on this type of violence that unfortunately appears to be on the rise in the U.S., then each American must take a hard look at our values, our voice, and our responsibility. There are hundreds of thousands of Mcfarlane's across America, and but for her connection to President Obama's speech, she would be just another anonymous victim of gun violence in a poor, urban area. Our hearts and prayers go out to her family.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe