MIAMI — The sound of shots pierced the evening in Liberty City on Tuesday. When the gun noise stopped, three girls who were playing in front of a home had bullet wounds. Girls, ages 10, 15 and 18, were taken to Ryder Trauma Center with non life-threatening wounds, Miami Police said, though the scars of violence may never fade.
This latest shooting came 48 hours before a panel of local law enforcement, the business community and social service organizations from across Miami-Dade County would convene to discuss the issue of gun violence. Before Tuesday night’s shooting, gun violence in general had caught the attention of Adora Obi Nweze, president of the NAACP State Conference and the Miami-Dade branch. To try to combat the problem, she convened a panel of experts to address gun violence and provide information to help the community.
“We have to be involved with these issues to bring the attention to the community. Gun violence has ripped our black community apart,” said Nweze.
The forum, entitled “The Culture of Gun Violence in South Florida: The Public Safety, Social and Business Challenges,” will take place Thursday, Feb. 27th, 6:30 p.m., at the New Way Fellowship Baptist Church at 16800 NW 22nd Ave., Miami Gardens.
Robert Parker, former director of Miami-Dade County Police Department and one of the panelists, believes there are a number of ways to reduce gun violence in Miami and it starts with people in the community. In the shooting Tuesday, police have no leads, only knowing that there were two men in a car, make and model unknown. “The education of people to know the frequency of it is important; beyond the education, what gun violence means,” said Parker.
A number of U.S. cities have gun homicide rates in line with the most deadly nations in the world and Miami as a whole is one of them according to policymic.com. Gun murders in Miami are 23.7 per 100,000 people: the country of Colombia has murders that are 27.1 per 100,000 people.
A major concern of some of the panelists is the effect that violence has on innocent children trapped in neighborhoods hijacked by gun violence. Young children who get expose to gun violence usually are traumatized emotionally and have permanent emotional scars, according to futureofchildren.org.
Children are sometimes caught in the deadly cross fire like Tequila Forshee who was killed last year while getting her hair braided for the first day of school. She was 12 years old. Weeks later Nevilisha Francis, 13, was shot in the leg while inside her home talking on the phone.
Andre Williams, former councilman in the City of Miami Gardens and moderator of the roundtable, said we need to help youth learn that life is not all about crime.
“We need to try to get involved with kids at a young age so they can grow up and have success; life skills training is the best mechanism for our young kids to avoid this problem,” said Williams.
Nweze is not only concerned about violence in the county. She has pointed to a litany of problems from Florida’s “stand your ground” laws to jobs to voter purge problems that need addressing. She is taking that fight to the state capitol. Called Moral Monday, Nweze on March 3 and several partner organizations will rally in Tallahassee from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Former director Parker is optimistic and thinks that the spike in violence is a phase. “Give it some time, the gun violence in Miami will lower and our young children will be reflection of that,” said Parker.