soleiltropiques (soleiltropiques) wrote in ontd_political,

In light of U.S. gun violence protest, black students in Baltimore ask: Where is our march?

OP note: I am 100% FOR the new youth gun control movement and I think it is just wonderful. That being said, there are others who seem to have been forgotten.
In light of U.S. gun violence protest, black students in Baltimore ask: Where is our march?

In 2017, city of Baltimore had over 300 homicides

'Baltimore doesn’t get a voice… because the city’s predominantly black,' said 16-year-old student Arron Fleming.

Last year, Baltimore was the deadliest city — for its size — in America. By far.

This city of approximately 600,000 had a record high murder rate (roughly 56 per 100,000 residents), with 343 people killed, most of them by guns.

And the city's killers are particularly good at what they do — one grisly aspect of Baltimore's gun deaths is that nearly half of them last year were shots to the head.

Spray-painted walls in West Baltimore read "No Shoot Zone," but they don't really stop anybody. Ad hoc memorials dot city streets as families of those shot and killed tie balloons and other ephemera to lampposts marking the spots where their loved ones were gunned down.

And in a city still stinging over the 2015 death of Freddie Gray — the African-American man who died in police custody, sparking protests and rioting — many in Baltimore have little faith authorities will be able to quell the violence.

This mural in Baltimore memorializes Freddie Gray, who was killed in 2015, while in police custody.

Unlike the unprecedented attention given those students from Parkland, Fla., after the mass shooting at their school on Feb. 14 and this weekend's March for Our Lives, Baltimore's gun problem rarely makes national news.

Even while Baltimore counts ever more high school students among its dead.

At Excel Academy, an alternative high school just outside downtown, principal Tammatha Woodhouse said they've lost eight students to gun violence in little over a year.

"It's overwhelming," she said. "You don't imagine, as a principal, that this is a part of your world — but it is."

'Racism never stopped'

In the days leading up to Saturday's anti-gun rally in nearby Washington, D.C., Woodhouse spent several hours at a local hospital visiting a 17-year-old student shot on March 20.

"It was extremely rough," she said.

At Excel Academy, an alternative high school just outside the downtown, principal Tammatha Woodhouse said they've lost eight students to gun violence in little over a year.

Excel students wonder what it is about Baltimore's gun problem that's failed to attract serious attention, let alone a national response.

"A black person gets shot and do they do anything about it?" said 18-year-old Excel student Michaela Gray, who, like most of the kids at her school is African-American.

"When somebody got shot, did Parkland come say something to us? No. Did we have a march? No."
(OP note: For some reason lj refuses to embed from any other source than YouTube, that I can see. I will therefore direct you to the video which can be found here.)

Three Baltimore students talk with CBC’s Paul Hunter about the risks and frustrations of living in a city where gun violence is a daily reality.

The Excel student shot on March 20 is Gray's boyfriend.

"Now, people are getting killed in daylight," said fellow student Myer Burks, also 18. "It doesn't matter where you are, you don't have to be involved in any gang or drugs and [you can] still get killed."

Another student, 16-year-old Arron Fleming, believes it's a different America that's been out on the streets demonstrating on behalf of Parkland students, even though Baltimore has suffered brutal gun violence for years.

'A black person gets shot, and do they do anything about it?' said 18-year-old Excel student Michaela Gray, who, like most of the kids at her school, is African-American.

"Baltimore doesn't get a voice… because the city's predominantly black," he put it, bluntly.

"I feel as though racism never stopped. It just evolved. It's become more subtle."

No one at Excel knocks the students of Parkland for leading those protests. Like so many in the U.S., Excel students grieve with victims of all shootings.

But there is growing resentment and a feeling that, quite simply, not enough people seem to care about Baltimore.

'The culture has to change'

At the same time, there are African-Americans in Baltimore who increasingly emphasize the city can do more to fix itself.

Indeed, most of Baltimore's gun violence happens within the black community and is driven by social inequality and despair.

Munir Bahar, who runs the COR Health Institute in East Baltimore, which operates programs aimed at improving the lives of young people, underlined that Baltimore's needs are different from what gun-control advocates are calling for.

"The vast majority of young black men dying by guns in America are not being killed by an AR-15," Bahar said, referring to the rifle that was used in the Parkland shooting. "So banning AR-15s is cool, but it changes nothing in terms of the problem of homicides in the black community."

Munir Bahar, crouching second from right, helps run programs aimed at improving the lives of young people in Baltimore.

"Health, education, literacy, mental health, recreation… If we're not doing this, but we're just demanding that things change — without the ingredients of change — that's just an absence of logic."

Bahar has converted a trio of abandoned buildings in East Baltimore into a non-profit recreation centre he hopes will help end the culture of guns and violence in the city.

"We're making small changes to help, hopefully, drive a whole new culture in this neighbourhood. And that's what I believe is the answer. The culture has to change. People have to change."

But it's a steep hill to climb.

(OP note: For some reason lj refuses to embed from any other source than YouTube, that I can see. I will therefore direct you to the video which can be found here.)
Activist Munir Bahar talks with CBC’s Paul Hunter about the problem of gun violence within the black community.

While many in America point to Saturday's marches as a signal the U.S. is ready to turn a corner on gun violence, students back at Excel remain pessimistic.

For the march on Washington, the school chartered a bus to take as many of its students who wanted to go. Only 25 signed up for it — and none of those who spoke with CBC News saw any value in making the trip.

"I really feel it's a waste of my time," said Michaela Gray.

Pressed on Baltimore's seemingly unrelenting gun problem, she said: "I pray something will change."

"But maybe it won't."

OP: The second article goes with the first IMO. (In other words, gun control nuts don't care about the fact that their gun obsession is killing Mexicans).
America's guns: Made in the US, killing in Mexico

Last year, more Mexicans were killed with guns than in any year on record. Most of those guns came from the US.

(OP note: For some reason lj refuses to embed from any other source than YouTube, that I can see. I will therefore direct you to the video which can be found here.)

The massacre in Parkland, Florida and the massive protests it inspired have rightly highlighted how military-grade assault weapons, along with high-capacity magazines, should not be sold commercially. These types of rifles produce greater damage in their human victims, and their ease of rapid fire has made them a weapon of choice in mass shootings in the United States.

It is true that handguns are used in the vast majority of gun homicides in the US. But in Mexico, assault rifles are the preferred weapon for organised crime, which seeks military assets to control territory, as Al Jazeera's Juliana Ruhfus found in the investigation for her film "America's Guns: Arming Mexico's Cartels" that aired earlier this month. The result of the steady flow of assault weaponry into Mexico has only gotten worse. Last year, Mexico opened 16,828 gun homicide investigations - more than in any year of its recorded history, and more than in the entire US, even though Mexico has less than half the population of its northern neighbour.

Most of the guns used in those crimes came from the US - 70 percent of guns recovered at crime scenes in Mexico and traced since 2009 were purchased in the US and trafficked across the border. Doing so is easy, since the US-Mexico border is designed principally to facilitate massive volumes of trade. The Border Patrol, fences, and militarised infrastructure on that border are to stop migrants moving from south to north, not threats that move from the US into Mexico.

The human toll in Mexico from the gun trade is devastating. Dr Marvin Hernandez Ortega and three other young professionals were travelling on the federal highway near Acapulco on June 19, 2015, when they were forcibly disappeared. Five days later, local authorities found bodies that they said were the young men's. Near their burned-out vehicle, shell casings from assault rifles were found. "These weapons are instruments of the growing violence and homicides in Mexico," Hernandez Ortega's uncle, Romualdo Hernandez, told me when he visited Washington in 2016. "We demand that the US government exercise control over the weapons companies and border crossings."

To reduce the flow of weaponry that feeds violence in Mexico requires looking not only at the border crossings themselves, but upstream - to the production of and legal access to weapons made for killing people. That is why it is important for the US Congress - and failing that, southern border states - to prohibit assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and to make gun trafficking itself a crime.

The problem is cultural and ethical, as well as one of policies and laws. While hundreds of thousands of people in 800 cities and towns in the US marched for legislation to prevent gun violence last Saturday, gun company Sig Sauer was showing small children how to shoot pistols and sniper rifles with silencers at the Game and Fish Expo in Arizona - a state that is ground zero for the legal and illegal export of guns to Mexico.

The legal export of guns by US gun producers to Mexican police is also feeding criminal activities and the illegal gun market in Mexico, in several ways. The Mexican military is the only legal importer of firearms in Mexico; in turn, it sells weapons to police throughout the country, and, to a lesser extent, to private individuals and security companies.

State and local police in Mexico have had more than 20,000 firearms go missing or stolen since 2006, according to Mexican military documents. More than 8,000 rifles and handguns disappeared during that time from police arsenals in the city and state of Mexico and Guerrero state alone. In Guerrero, infamous for corruption and human rights violations by its police and military, out of every five firearms legally acquired by police, more than one went missing or stolen.

US exports of weapons to the Mexican armed forces have grown enormously as part of the militarised security strategy that has disastrously failed to reduce homicides. The use of state weapons in operations to decapitate the leadership of criminal organisations has provoked more violence among prospective successors, while also feeding an arms race between criminal groups and the parts of the state that fight them. In addition, many Mexican police armed with US weapons directly commit human rights violations. The local police who attacked students from the Ayotzinapa teachers school and disappeared 43 of them in 2014, for example, were armed with AR-15 rifles exported by Colt Industries in Connecticut, according to court records.

When police collude with criminal organisations by giving them information or fighting their rivals in exchange for money, they are strengthening organised crime, even without directly trafficking weapons to it. US gun exports to Mexico thus strengthen the very forces, in many instances, that the arms sales are supposed to combat.

The Trump administration plans to deregulate such sales further, which will likely lead to even more US weapons in the hands of corrupt or abusive military and police forces. The US should instead suspend gun export licenses to Mexico and reorient its security policy there.

In the US, given the failure of the federal government in Washington to adequately control the illegal gun market, there are important steps that state governments can take, especially the southern border states, where more than three out of four illegal guns in Mexico traced to the US are purchased, according to the Government Accounting Office.

When the federal assault weapons ban expired in 2004, the sudden, easy availability in Texas and Arizona of these military-grade rifles accelerated killing in northern Mexican communities, independent of the growth of the drug war in that period, causing hundreds of additional annual deaths, according to a New York University study. California, on the other hand, kept an assault weapons ban in place, and also requires universal background checks on gun sales, unlike Texas and Arizona. As a result, guns used in crimes in Mexico were traced to Texas and Arizona at more than three times the rate per capita, compared with California, between 2009 and 2014. "Since 40 percent of all Mexican crime guns comes from Texas, state leaders should step up to study and implement sensible solutions to the deadly problem of gun trafficking," says Andrea Bauer of the group Texas Gun Sense.

Eighteen members of Congress last year called on the governors of the four southern US border states to "institute greater controls over southbound commercial activity. Agencies charged with enforcing firearm laws should be provided effective mandates, funding, and leadership".

For its part, Mexico can make stopping the border gun trade an important part of its bilateral agenda with the Trump administration, and reframe the failed drug war policies that further arm police without holding them accountable for abuses and collusion with criminal forces.

Regional representatives will meet next week in Mexico City to consider how to effectively confront international arms trafficking. Gun victims in Mexico need action, as badly as the Parkland students and other gun victims do across the US.

Additional links and information:
(1) The US' lack of gun control domestically is actually contributing to a global problem with guns. (OP note: Some of the sources below are better than others...)
-The American Gun Glut Is a Problem for the Entire World.
-Our global guns problem.
-Inside the illegal online weapons trade.
-Firearms trafficking in Honduras. (It is important to realize that Honduras' homicide rate has been declining since 2011, but it remains "one of the world’s deadliest peacetime nations".) "Honduras has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, and some 75 percent of these homicides are committed using guns. (...) The United States is the origin of close to half of the unregistered weapons seized in Honduras." (From this reference.) It should be noted however that the reference in question states that there is not much information available on how many crimes in Honduras are committed with legal vs. illegal guns, but it is noted that, "There is a large illicit domestic market in weapons and ammunition.".)

(2) About the disproportionate effect of gun violence on African Americans.
-Black Kids Are 10 Times More Likely Than White Kids to Die From Guns, Study Says.
-The Gun Violence Epidemic Impacts Black Americans the Most.
-Firearm injuries in the United States. "Non-Hispanic blacks have the highest rates of firearm mortality overall (18.1 per 100,000), and this disparity is largely a function of differences between racial/ethnic groups in firearm homicide." (Reference is: Fowler KA, Dahlberg LL, Haileyesus T, Annest JL. Firearm injuries in the United States. Preventive Medicine 2015; 79:5-14.) (Available free here.)
Tags: *trigger warning: racism, *trigger warning: violence, gun control, guns, mexico, race / racism, usa

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