Editorials

Heartbreak And Carnage In America

By Final Call News | Last updated: Apr 19, 2017 - 8:05:37 AM

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Robert Godwin, pictured here with his daughter Debbie. Photos: MGN Online

The killing of 74-year-old Robert Godwin, Sr. On Easter Sunday in Cleveland was beyond disturbing as the elderly Black man was shot to death and his alleged killer later uploaded the heinous act on Facebook.

Steve Stephens, identified from videos and statements from family and an ex-girlfriend, plainly states his desire and decision to kill and to kill without apology. The video showing his approach to Mr. Godwin is stunning. The shooter walks up to the man, asks him to repeat the name of an ex-girlfriend, and guns him down.

At Final Call press time, the manhunt for Mr. Stephens had been expanded to several states and condemnation of his alleged act flowed over social media and airwaves. Video of his alleged brutal crime and video of the apparently random victim’s grieving family members fueled anger and outrage. Mr. Stephens, in a video, says he has committed other murders and plans to kill again.

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Steve Stephens, right, accused of killing a person and sharing the video on Facebook. Photo: MGN Online
The one-time case worker assisted children, adolescents and adults with behavioral health, according to his employer. One media outlet reportedly noted, Mr. Stephens’ mother, Maggie Green, spoke to CNN and she said that he was “mad with his girlfriend. That’s why he is shooting people and he won’t stop until his mother or girlfriend tell him to stop.”

Sadly other shootings and slayings happened over the Easter weekend, including in Chicago where police arrested a man for fatally shooting a store clerk in the head for refusing to share a “blunt,” marijuana cigarette. In Birmingham, Ala., shots rang out at a family carnival a church parking lot. Five teenagers and a one-year-old child were injured by gunfire. In Revere, Mass., more shots were fired at a carnival as spring broke and people ventured outside. In Columbus, Ohio, three people were shot early Monday morning, April 17, and one man was pronounced dead at the scene. Early Easter Sunday morning, nine people were sent to the hospital following a shooting in an after hours’ club—a similar shooting occurred in March in Cincinnati, which left two people dead and 15 people wounded.

In Baltimore, a 28-year-old pregnant woman was found outside a hospital with gunshot wounds. She and the baby died. The same weekend marked the 10th anniversary of a mass shooting at Virginia Tech University. The United States has a love affair with guns and it is a deadly infatuation.

“Each year, more than 30,000 Americans are killed by gun violence–homicides, suicides and incidental shootings. That number is ten times more than the number of Americans killed by terrorists on 9/11,” said Ceasefire USA, a gun control group. “Felons, terrorists, domestic abusers and the seriously violent mentally ill continue to have easy access to firearms and ammunition because of our weak gun laws. Another 70,000 Americans—in urban, suburban and rural communities—are injured annually, some of them so seriously they require a lifetime of care,” according to the group.

Over twitter, the Gun Violence Archive (@GunDeaths), reported as of April 16, there had been 17,245 total incidents of gun violence in the United States in 2017. The incidents included 4,311 gun deaths, 8,330 gun injuries, 594 unintentional shootings and 96 mass shootings.

“Black people have consistently accounted for close to half the country’s homicide victims, making up more than 50 percent of the broader pool of those killed overall every year since 2010. The number of black victims increased 15 percent in 2015 over 2014,” according to a U.S. News and World Report article from 2015. “It’s a disparity that becomes more pronounced in the context of population, as 2015 Census estimates suggest that whites account for 77.1 percent of the overall U.S. population of roughly 321 million, while blacks comprise 13.3 percent.”

Newsweek, in 2014, cited research that found “in the United States firearm-related deaths are twice as high among African- Americans compared with whites.” And, according to one researcher quoted, the numbers are likely underestimates of actual gun deaths among Blacks.

But no matter what the numbers add up to, none of the figures capture the intense suffering that comes with losing a loved one to gun violence. Some individuals and families will never be the same and the trauma extends from family members outward to other social circles.

America needs a healing. There is something deeply wrong in the country and in Black America when violence grows more senseless and more unexplainable. Sadly these beginning of sorrows also reflect the biblical prophesies of violent and deadly days. It is time to reject the old American mindset that settles disagreements with violence. It’s time to end gun worship and praying to the power of the gun. It’s a deeply embedded myth in a country where a six-shooting revolver was called ironically “The Peacemaker.”

Needless violence, whether in the streets or orchestrated for corridors of power in Washington, D.C., can never bring peace. It can only bring carnage and heartbreak.

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