The Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence decries all forms of unnecessary gun violence incidents. Though the vast majority of police do a difficult job with integrity and respect, there are too many tragedies that involve the shooting of unarmed black men by the police. This has inspired the Black Lives Matter movement, and we had a prominent member of our West Chester community speak to this issue during the Sept. 25 Concert Across America to End Gun Violence.
Black Lives Matter
by Cassandra Jones: remarks at the Concert Across America to end Violence, West Chester concert, 9/25/16
So I could give you a bunch of statistics (such as 509 people shot so far this year by police) and point fingers in certain directions but I really want to talk about this from a different perspective.
Black Lives Matter: That’s hard to hear isn’t it? …It’s even harder to say because I agree that ALL lives matter Right? Do you believe that? Ok, if you believe that then it should be easy for you to accept the fact that Black lives are a part of the equation of ALL!
There has been no video footage released of any white, Hispanic, Asian or any other race but black that shows unarmed people being blatantly shot down. The visual images themselves are enough to cause nightmares for children and adults.
I have been a victim or survivor of gun violence myself. My mother was shot when I was just 6 years old. The impact left me in a state of paralysis. I do not remember anything that happened from the time my mother was taken away in the ambulance until the time she returned from the hospital. I lost my memory for that period of time! This is the effect of senseless gun violence.
We see ourselves as leaders of the free world and the most civilized country. We must stand up and fight for sensible gun laws in America.
The streets of America have become outlined with the blood of innocent people. In particular black men, but in one heartbreaking case an 8 year-old girl was killed while sleeping on her grandmother’s’ couch because she jumped when a police officer burst into the house with tear gas and couldn’t identify her!
I am outraged but more importantly hurt in ways that are almost irreparable! BUT, because I know and love good and decent police officers (including the great members of the WCPD) and good and decent people of other races, I STILL HAVE HOPE!
My hope is that the good people who really wish to change things in America are still willing to stand side by side with those who have been assaulted by the inexcusable and unnecessary killings that we have witnessed over and over and over again for the past 3 years.
History shows that nothing changes in America until black & white people—and all people—stand together to make things right! The moral compass of America has always been challenged by protest but the needle doesn’t move until we find common ground to stand on. That’s what pushes the needle toward justice! That’s why people today can stand and declare that “We are better/stronger together.” It’s because we’ve seen that model work for us. Like “Yes we can” or “Change has come to America”!
These are color-neutral mantras that have galvanized us because they foster that one human trait that I spoke of earlier… HOPE! Hope in each other: that’s what we are banking on! The hope I have in you, the hope that I hope you have in me. Hope that you will truly believe that ALL lives matter and Black Lives Matter because of that! Not more than that, but because of that!
I believe the founders of BLM were sending out an SOS request to draft people who believe in life, to help us black people say to everyone—in spite of systematic racism, marginalization, criminalization, chattel slavery, prison slavery, abject poverty and the attempted assassination of the human spirit— that we still want to live!
Side by side with you, my brothers and sisters, neighbors and coworkers. WE WANT TO LIVE!
Some people choose to ignore the current circumstances and hide behind All Lives Matter because they refuse to acknowledge that black people are being killed in our communities DAILY without consequence. Whether it’s by police or others, because there is no consequence, it appears that it doesn’t matter. We are just trying to get you to see that it really does matter.
We need you to help us, to help us prove that ALL lives do matter and Black lives are a part of the equation of ALL.
At night I have nightmares about my dark-skinned grandson being killed for the color of his skin and my daughters being harmed. Like most parents, I have brought them up to be good citizens and educated people. Now I need to feel that they are safe and not threatened by the nightmare of gunfire.