Violent crime rates in the United States have soared over the past several months while activists associated with Black Lives Matter call to defund police. Protesters have consistently claimed to be peaceful voices demanding change and "racial justice" as they topple monuments and statues while harassing law enforcement officers and light police vehicles on fire.
As the days of protests and unrest morphed into weeks, violence has crept into American cities at levels that haven't been seen in decades. Police have lost the support of elected leaders in cities all over the country as their budgets have been slashed and an anti-violence task force of 600 in New York City was disbanded.
Protesters continue to cry out that "black lives matter" as they decry all police and insist that our shared national history is marred by white supremacy and systemic racism. But as the names of only a few people killed by police continue to circulate among protesters as examples of racial injustice in the country, the bodies of black Americans are dropping at alarming rates in cities across the nation.
That rampant violence has spared no one and now, only a week into the month of July, as the nation celebrated our Declaration of Independence from bloody tyranny 244 years ago, at least 10 children have been killed amid the disturbing increase in violence on our own city streets. The deaths of these children, not at the hands of law enforcement or a white supremacist, do not fit the political narrative being driven by a group claiming that Black Lives Matter because, to them, a death that doesn't help their cause is hardly worth mentioning.
Royta Giles, Jr., 8, Hoover, Alabama
The young boy, who had just completed the second grade, was in an Alabama shopping mall with his family when an argument broke out between two groups of men. Gunfire erupted as the men clashed and four bystanders had been hit by the time the fracas concluded.
Royta was struck in the head while he, his siblings, and his mother and stepfather were waiting to go to the Children's Place clothing store.
"We heard the gunshots and I grabbed them and we hit the ground,‘' Royta's mother said. “When we all got up, he was the only one who didn’t get up."
Royta and another child were transported to the local children's hospital where he was pronounced dead. The other shooting victims, none of whom were involved in the heavily armed altercation, were treated and released later that night.
Police arrested 22-year-old Montez Moses Miracle Coleman a short time after the shooting, charging him with capital murder. They have appealed to the public with pictures from the mall shooting for help identifying the other suspects.
"To the people who did this, if I could say anything to them, it’s I don’t care about justice or anything like that," the grieving mother said. “I wouldn’t say I’m religious, I would say I’m more spiritual, and the person who did this is going to have to answer for that whether it is to whoever they pray to or if it’s the streets.”
“This one hits home,‘' she said. “They took a good one."
Jace Young, 6, San Francisco, California
The small boy was watching fireworks displays on Saturday night in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco when he was shot and killed by an unknown assailant. An adult was also shot but did not receive any life-threatening injuries.
Jace was described by his aunt as a good kid with a bubbly personality who loved his family. No motive for the shooting has been released and police have not named a suspect. The shooting is, however, being investigated as a homicide.
"Senseless violence like this that could so tragically claim the life of a small child is unacceptable in our city, and the San Francisco Police Department stands with the Bayview Hunter's Point community in its determination to bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice," Police Chief William Scott said on Sunday.
Secoriea Turner, 8, Atlanta Georgia
Secoriea was with her mother and another adult in a car on Saturday when at least two assailants approached them, opening fire on the vehicle. The location was near the Wendy's restaurant where Rayshard Brooks had been shot by a police officer last month. That Wendy's was burned and has since been the site of Black Lives Matter protests and riots. The protesters had constructed illegal barricades that blocked Secoriea's mother from being able to drive away.
The young girl was hit in the chest with a bullet. She was later pronounced dead. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms said that the girl's brutal, senseless murder should probably spell the end of protests in the area. "Enough is enough," she said.
Natalia Wallace, 7, Chicago, Illinois
At her grandmother's house in the Austin neighborhood of south Chicago, Natalia, often called "Natalie" by friends and family, was outside playing with other children when a bullet struck her in the forehead on Independence Day.
Witnesses say a light-colored vehicle approached the residence where Natalia and others were playing on the sidewalk. They pulled out several guns and fired at the home in the direction of the children.
A 32-year-old man was also injured in the shooting but his injuries were not life-threatening. Police are investigating whether the man was the intended target. They have not named any suspects in the investigation so far.
"She said, ‘Your baby’s shot!’ and I jumped the flight of stairs to come downstairs, and I found my baby laying here, and I’ll never be the same,” Natalia's great-great-aunt Shelley Fulton said. “It’s got to stop, this killing. These are innocent kids. She was only 7 years old."
Davon McNeil, 11, Washington, D.C.
Davon, an athletic child, and a sixth-grade student was attempting to retrieve a phone charger from his aunt's home on Saturday evening when a bullet hit him in the head, ending his all-too-brief life. Davon's mother is active in local D.C. politics, where she worked with elected leaders to take measures against community violence.
Davon's grandfather, John Ayala, is the chief of the local chapter of the Guardian Angels, a citizen crime watch organization credited with curbing violent crime in cities across the world.
"I have to keep pushing the message on. I have to talk to people. I have to do this every day as a Guardian Angel, as a Black man, and also being part of my ARC Angels special police in D.C.," Ayala said. No motive or suspect names have been released by the police.
Boy, 6, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
A six-year-old is dead after being shot in the side of the chest on Sunday in Philadelphia. Circumstances surrounding the boy's death have not been released and no suspects have been named. One woman was escorted from the home where the boy had been found wounded by his uncle.
6-YEAR-OLD BOY SHOT & KILLED: @phillypolice are not yet revealing the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting, which happened around 12:45pm Sunday on the 4600 blk of Kendrick Street in Upper Holmesburg. https://t.co/BcY7jGV5Dr pic.twitter.com/Qg1KbnrsOz— Trang Do (@TrangDoCBS3) July 5, 2020
Carson Walker, 4, Galivants Ferry, North Carolina
Carson was shot and killed on Saturday, though authorities have yet to release the circumstances surrounding his murder. They discovered the child's body after responding to reports of a shooting on Saturday afternoon. Henry Tyrone Moody was later arrested and charged in the child's Fourth of July death.
Boy, 14, Chicago, Illinois
The teenage boy was shot in the back late Saturday evening as fireworks displays lit up the night sky. He was later pronounced dead. Four shooters approached a large group of people gathered to watch the fireworks and began shooting into the crowd just before midnight. An 11-year-old and a 15-year-old were also wounded in the attack.
Three other victims were also killed in the attack. Two died on the scene and another succumbed to his wounds at the hospital. A 35-year-old man was shot several times and is in critical condition and another man was hit in the foot.
Police have not released information on what may have motivated the deadly attack or whether there are currently any persons of interest.
Elayna Saidee, 12, and Makeliah Osorno, 11, Delano, California
The two girls were attending a pool party in California when a shooter jumped out of a light-colored sedan and opened fire. The girls were killed and three others were wounded. Police believe the attack was gang-related.
"It’s a hallmark gang-style shooting,” said Delano Police Chief Robert Nevarez. “The suspect arrives in a tan Toyota Corolla or Camry, and according to some witnesses one of the persons got out of the vehicle and went into the yard area and began firing and then quickly left."
Police said many of the witnesses at the party have refused to cooperate with the investigation which "makes it very difficult for use to solve this and break up this cycle of violence," according to Nevarez.
As families grieve over the tragic slaughter of their children in an increasingly violent world, they look to the activists to shine their global spotlight on the shocking community violence throughout the United States.
"We’re protesting for months, for weeks, saying black lives matter,” said John Ayala, Davon McNeil's grandfather. “Black lives matter, it seems like, only when a police officer shoots a black person. What about all the black-on-black crime that’s happening in the community?"
"Put the guns down! Put the guns down! We talk about Black Lives Matter, but at the end of the day, we’re killing each other off, we’re killing our babies,” said Natalia Wallace's aunt.