As we reported earlier, the death of 7-year-old Amari Brown has shined a light on a sad ritual that has accompanied the annual 4th of July festivities in Chicago.
Since the ‘90s, gun violence has become a major issue in the city with the number of annual gun deaths ranging between 400 and 500 in recent years. Reuters notes that Chicago is known the most violent large city in the United States this is the result of issues such as poverty, segregation, dozens of small street gangs, and a pervasive gun culture.
Brown died Saturday (July 6) after he was hit by gunfire from a man who shot a group of people in an apparent gang-related attack as he ran around a corner. Two hours after being rushed to the hospital in his father’s arms, the young died.
Prior to his death, Amari was enjoying a backyard fireworks display in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. Despite police working 12-hour shifts with an increase in patrols, Amari ended up being the youngest of nine people killed from gun violence over the Independence Day weekend. Along with the killings, Reuters reports that guns were also responsible for injuries suffered by 50 people during the long weekend.
The street where Amari was killed was said to have featured security cameras that were installed by police in an effort to prevent crime. Speaking to Reuters, police revealed that the shots that hit Amari were meant for his father, Antonio Brown, a man authorities said is a ranking member of the Four Corner Hustlers gang, with dozens of arrests. At the time of his son’s death, Antonio Brown was free on bond on a weapons charge.
As detectives put up crime-scene tape, took pictures of bullet casings, and approached potential witnesses, Amari’s death has resulted in pictures of the young boy being hung up by those who know the family near the sidewalk where he was killed as well as a shrine of new teddy bears. A $1,000 reward for anyone with information on Amari’s shooter has been offered by several churches, which spoke on the situation during a news conference in which they also offered to pay for the boy’s funeral.
For the Rev. Ari Acree, folks don’t have to look far to for someone to blame for the violence.
“We can’t blame this on the system or on the white supremacists. The person who did this walks like us, looks like us and dresses like us. He lives among us,” Acree said while, pleading for solidarity in the African American community to help find the killer.
Despite the 4th of July weekend deaths and injuries, police superintendent Garry McCarthy highlighted during a news conference on Sunday (July 5) that the long shifts officers worked and their increased presence gave way to them successfully collecting illegal weapons over the holiday weekend.
Regarding, the Amari Brown case, McCarthy mentioned that although others in the community were doing their part in trying to help identify Amari’s shooter, he is frustrated that Antonio Brown wasn’t cooperating with the investigation.