Yesterday in Muskegon two people were shot in the head. There have been a lot of shootings recently, but this one, this one, really punched me in the gut. One of the people who was shot in the head, was a mother who was rushing to get her children out of harm’s way. She was an innocent bystander, who ran to the defense of her children who were playing on their porch when she heard a fight escalating and instinctively knew what would happen next. Along with the two people who were shot, neighboring houses were sprayed with bullets while three men shot heedlessly at each other over drugs. It was 5:30 pm, broad daylight, children playing all around, and these thugs just didn’t care.
Yes, I was upset over the Elijah Henderson case. As a mother I couldn’t begin to imagine. Yes, I’ve been outraged by the shootings since. So much of this violence has involved our youth. But something about this case in particular just fills me with rage. Here was a mother, who was minding her own business one moment, and the next trying to protect the very lives of her young children, and she paid the ultimate price. She’s still alive, but at this point it remains to be seen what her recovery will be like.
I went to bed early last night because I didn’t feel comfortable sitting in front of the windows in my own living room.
I was awoken out of a dead sleep at 12:12 am by the sound of a single gunshot behind my house. We called and reported it and then watched, no officers ever came by. This is typical.
A couple weeks ago a truck backfired while driving past and my son, Atticus, asked me if people were shooting at our house. He’s four. I don’t talk about this stuff with him, but he’s obviously overheard enough that he’s on edge. It makes me sick that my FOUR YEAR OLD would think that people are shooting at us. What sort of scars is this city inflicting on him long-term? What sort of life will those two children have? Even if their mother survives they’ve been forever changed. Their innocence lost. A moment of time that has forever changed the landscape of their lives. I have to wonder about the ripple effect that this shooting will have on our community. Will it even have any effect? The previous stones in the pond didn’t seem to cause enough of a disturbance to institute any sort of real change. Will this shooting be any different?
What exactly is it going to take? The body count continues to rise and what’s being done about it? Muskegon has problems aplenty, we all know that. Some people are even making videos about our problems – talking about them in broad generalization – but what are any of us doing to curb the gun violence? Really, I’m asking myself, what can I do? I refuse to sacrifice the safety of my children or myself, for some greater good that it seems many residents around here don’t even want. Muskegon is made up of a lot of people who really are trying, but more often than not, those people who are trying, who are out on the streets working at ground level, are swept aside by those who come in and tell us what we should be doing instead. They say we should “love” Muskegon, as if the simple act of living here and paying taxes isn’t enough. They paint a glossy picture, one that shows shiny, happy people playing on the beach, with nary a black, or latino, or poor person in sight. While this campaign happens the real Muskegon continues to fester. Eventually this violence will boil over and find its way into neighborhoods that actually affect those people. And maybe then they’ll actually do something about it. Right now, all of this violence in happening on the “wrong side of the tracks” and is easily ignored by the larger populace. What can be done? What will it take to unite Muskegon? Not just the downtown area, but North Muskegon, Norton Shores, Muskegon Heights… our city can be likened to a person suffering gangrene, Muskegon and the Heights are the legs that the rest of the body wants to chop off before it infects the whole system. Like it or not, this violence effects us all. The disease has already spread and the whole body must be treated before any sort of recovery can begin.
Last year when the gun violence levels rose along with the heat levels, people marched in the streets, and what did that accomplish? I’m not begrudging the fact that people were trying to do something, but really what did that do? Here we are yet again, facing the same problem. How many more Summers of Violence must we face? It’s time to get serious about this.
I sit here now, with a huge knot of apprehension growing in my stomach, shooing my children away from the windows. And all I can think about is what I need to do to get out of this neighborhood.