Things That Matter

Two Mothers Fighting To Get Rid Of Gun Violence Were Shot And Killed In Their Own Chicago Neighborhood

Chantell Grant and Andrea Stoudemire spent Friday, July 26 on the corner of 75th Street and Stewart Avenue in Chicago’s South Side, where the women, joined by their children, handed out food to other mothers, talked with youth about violence and kept an eye out on neighborhood children playing in the area. Members of Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK), an anti-violence group, the women spent many days in the park helping their community. 

But on this evening, the moms were shot and killed on the very corner they long tried to make safer.

The two women, who had finished up for the day and were walking to a store to get food for their families, were shot on a sidewalk around 10 p.m. 

Witnesses say a blue SUV drove up to the mothers and fired several shots. Grant, 26, and Stoudemire, 36, were hit several times in the chest and died at a nearby hospital. There is an ongoing investigation, but Chicago law enforcement have not yet arrested anyone.

“We have no evidence that we can point to that suggests the women were the intended targets,” police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement, according to BuzzFeed News. “We also have no evidence to the contrary.”

In a later statement, Guglielmi added that the shots were meant for a man who is associated with a local street gang and recently got out of prison. However, the unidentified 58-year-old man, who was hit in the arm in the shooting, is not cooperating with police.

Still, Tamar Manasseh, who founded MASK in 2015, said she’s not willing to accept that Grant, a mother of four, and Stoudemire, who had three children, were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“They killed mothers on a corner where mothers sit every day,” Manasseh said during a press conference Sunday. “You don’t have mothers killed in a place that is sacred to mothers and not take that as a message.”

According to the MASK website, the group formed “as a way to put eyes on the streets, interrupt violence and crime, and teach children to grow up as friends rather than enemies.” Together, the moms work to build stronger communities by focusing on violence prevention, food insecurity and housing. They also ensure community members have access to city services, opportunities for education and professional skills growth, and economic development.

A few years ago, volunteers also helped clean up a “dirty and filthy” site at the Englewood intersection and turned it into a space where kids could play safely daily. There, the children have supervision and activities, like learning to dance and eating dinner together, that teach them how to be productive members of society.

The site, she continued, was created to be a space where mothers could watch over their kids and ensure the safety and betterment of their lives.

“Chantell,” whose fourth and youngest child just turned 1 year old, “was one of those mothers,” Manasseh said. “She was a dedicated mother. Every day, Chantell brought her kids here. Every day. By now, I should have seen Chantell at least three or four times at this point of the day. I will never see her again.” 

Manasseh shared that Stoudemire wasn’t just a concerned mom but also a leader who helped everyone. 

“I will never see Andrea again,” she said. “Andrea was a mother’s mother. She mothered other mothers.”

Manasseh, who called the deaths “terrifying” and “heartbreaking,” says she has not slept much because she has been thinking about what more she and her group can do to stamp out violence in their community. 

More people are fatally shot in Chicago than in any other city in the US. During the weekend in which the two women died, 48 other people were shot in the city. Nine of them were killed, including a three-year-old child, reports CBS Chicago

Though homicides have decreased in the city in recent years and will likely continue to drop again this year, police statistics show there have been 281 in 2019 as of July 28.

 Manasseh stresses these numbers are unacceptable.

“For mothers to be killed in a place where mothers go to seek safety and sisterhood, I take that as a personal threat,” she said. “Because when you come for one of us, you better believe they came for all of us.”

The group has started a GoFundMe campaign aiming to raise $5,000 for a reward for information in the case. By Friday morning, it had raised more than $29,000.

“The murder of a woman brought us to our corner on 75th & Stewart so there’s no way we’re going to let the murder of more moms drive us away,” the fundraising page says. “We deserve to live without fear and the young women, Chantel Grant and Andrea Stoudemire who were torn from their children families tonight, deserve justice.”

The El Paso Walmart Where A White Nationalist Killed 22 People Reopens With #ElPasoStrong Banner

Things That Matter

The El Paso Walmart Where A White Nationalist Killed 22 People Reopens With #ElPasoStrong Banner

robolivasvzw / Instagram

Amid a class action lawsuit over safety, Walmart has hired off-duty officers to man its El Paso store during today’s quiet reopening, over three months since the deadly, racist mass shooting. On August 3, 2019, a white supremacist drove ten hours from Dallas, Texas, to the Cielo Vista shopping center, armed to kill as many Mexicans and Mexican-Americans as possible. That day, more than 3,000 people were in the El Paso Walmart, and 22 died within the few minutes the shooter opened fire. 

A security guard was scheduled to be there that fateful day but didn’t show. Walmart is currently the defendant in a class-action lawsuit, which is not seeking monetary damages but rather answers as to why Walmart didn’t adequately protect its customers.

The El Paso Walmart reopened its doors but not without an #ElPasoStrong banner greeting customers.

Before its scheduled opening at 9 a.m., employees gathered for the first time since the shooting for an employee meeting. Many wore “El Paso Strong” pins on their nametags. This time, armed off-duty police officers will be standing by, comforting many and alarming others. “There was a time that Walmart hired off-duty officers and for some time prior (to) August 3rd that ceased,” El Paso police spokesman Enrique Carrillo, told The Daily Mail in an email. 

The officers will be paid $50 per hour, roughly double their hourly wage.

Credit: @anjelia3464 / Twitter

Walmart has significantly invested in its security measures at all Walmart stores. “We typically do not share our security measures publicly because it could make them less effective,” Walmart spokeswoman Delia Garcia told the outlet, “But they may include hiring additional security, adding cameras in-store and using ‘lot cops’ in the parking lot. We will continue our long-standing practice of regularly evaluating our staffing, training, procedures, and technology which are designed to provide a safe working and shopping experience.”

If the government won’t implement gun reform, does the burden of protecting shoppers now lie in corporations?

Credit: @camerontygett / Twitter

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the United States, and the single largest roadblock to gun reform in America. The NRA donates to politicians who then ensure its interests are protected. The class action against Walmart presents a morose shift in the political landscape. It presumes that mentally ill people armed with assault-style weapons are something businesses should expect to protect their customers from. 

While it’s legally sound for Walmart to hire the off-duty officers to protect itself from liability, where is the burden on the police department? If the United States won’t pass gun reform measures, should it raise taxes instead to militarize the police and station them at every church, synagogue, movie theater and chain store? Will corporations band together to lobby the government, founded in capitalism, to take this undue burden off its back?

One shopper reflects the sentiment of many heading to Walmart today: “We aren’t letting this beat us.”

Credit: @KeenanFOX_CBS / Twitter

Journalist Keenan Willard met Emma Ferguson in the parking lot of the Walmart. She stopped to smile for a photo and tell him what her shopping experience means to her. “It’s about standing up to our fear. We aren’t letting this beat us.” Willard quoted her in a tweet.

The City of El Paso began removing the makeshift memorial behind Walmart earlier this week to prepare for its reopening.

Credit: @tornandra / Twitter

Journalist and El Paso resident Andra Litton tweeted a photo of the makeshift memorial behind Walmart the evening before the City of El Paso started removing the items, along with the fencing, “making it visible from I-10 for the first time since the Aug 3 shooting,” she tweeted. “It still hurts. #ElPasoStrong”

The items have been moved to Ponder Park, across the street from Walmart.

Credit: @nachoguilar / Twitter

Next to the memorial are “Temporary Memorial Site” signs in both Spanish and English. They read, “The City of El Paso invites the public to honor the victims of the August 3, 2019 tragedy at the Temporary Memorial at Ponder Park. The public may leave memorial items at the site. The public is encouraged to tie an orange ribbon in remembrance of those lost on August 3, 2019.” Along the fence, traditional Mexican sombreros hang next to a green star that says, “God cares!” “Pray for El Paso” and “#FronteraStrong,” along with Día de Muertos images of Frida Kahlo pepper the memorial.

A permanent memorial is under construction in the Walmart parking lot.

Credit: @265rza / Twitter

The ‘Grand Candela’ will be 30 feet tall, and projected to be unveiled by the end of the year. A month after the El Paso shooting, Walmart announced its plan to phase out certain types of ammunition from its stores, reducing its market share of ammunition from 20 percent to less than 10 percent. 

Still, some feel Walmart’s reopening, with the memorial or not, is a “slap in the face” to the victims. “It’s disrespectful to the people who died in the shooting,” college student Brandon Flores, 19, told CNN. “Anyone would be able to walk over the place where their bodies were laying and it would be just like nothing happened.”

READ: El Paso Artists Joined Together To Commemorate El Paso Gun Violence Victims With A Mural That Highlights Community Strength

A Gunman Opened Fire On A Santa Clarita High School And Here’s Everything We Know

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A Gunman Opened Fire On A Santa Clarita High School And Here’s Everything We Know

KTTV Fox 11

One person is dead and at least three others are injured, two of them critically, after a shooting at a Southern California high school Thursday morning, officials said.

The shooting began at before 8 a.m. before classes had started, while many students were on their way to the school.

The shooting began before classes started, with authorities starting to get calls about shots fired at 7:38 a.m., Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.

Adam Eichensehr, another sophomore, told ABC7 he received a text from his friends telling him not to go to school because they heard gunshots.

“At first I didn’t believe it. … then I saw cops, and so I stopped and I called my mom and she told me to come straight home,” he said. “All my friends I’ve come in contact with are OK for now.”

Police had tweeted out a warning to the community before they had located the suspect.

The Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s office tweeted just before 8 a.m. local time to avoid the area of Saugus High School, which is in the county of Los Angeles, about 40 miles north of the city of Los Angeles. Minutes later, the office said people were reporting that shots had been fired at the school.

“This is an active shooter situation,” a tweet from the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s office said before the suspect was located. “If you live in neighborhoods anywhere near Saugus High, PLEASE LOCK DOORS and stay inside. If you see suspect, male dark clothing, in backyards, etc. CALL 911.”

“Parents, deputies are on scene everywhere protecting your children,” a tweet from the sheriff’s office said.

So far two victims have died from their wounds and three others remain in the hospital.

Five victims were being transported to Henry Mayo Hospital, which says that three of them — two males and one female — arrived in critical condition. The female patient later died. Another male patient was in good condition and a fifth patient was still en route, according to the hospital.

Terrified students have started sharing their harrowing stories.

Student Sharon Orelana Cordova told NBC Los Angeles that she was doing homework when she saw people running so she started running too. “When I got out, I saw this person lying down on the ground, and I saw blood all over. It was really scary, I was really really scared. I didn’t know what was going on,” she said.

Saugus was placed on lockdown as were neighboring elementary schools and all of the schools in the William S. Hart Union High School District, officials said.

Aerial video showed students with their hands raised, being escorted by deputies away from the school of about 2,300 students, NBC Los Angeles reported. They were transported from the campus on school buses with armed deputies on board.

An area was set up for parents to reunify with students at a park about three miles from the school.

Politicians and celebrities were quick to condemn the violence on social media.

Several of the leading candidates for the 2020 Democratic primary took to Twitter to share their grief but to also make renewed calls for increased gun control.

Bernie Sanders said: “This must end. Children in America should not live in fear for their lives at school or anywhere else. We have a moral obligation to say: children’s lives are more important than gun manufacturers’ profits. We must pass common sense gun safety legislation.”

While California’s Governor Gavin Newsome tweeted at the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel: “how many more lives will be lost? How many more shootings will we have to endure? We need commonsense gun reform. NOW.”

The Santa Clarita shooting marks the 366th mass shooting in the US just this year.

At least 30 shooting attacks on school grounds have occurred in 2019 resulting in deaths or injuries, according to gun safety group Everytown.

At least 11 people have died in fatal shooting attacks this year, according to Everytown’s research. 

Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, a non-profit founded in 2006, tracks incidents of gun violence across the United States. Included in its count of gun violence on schools are any incident in which a live round is fired inside or into a school building or on a school’s campus.

The group says there have been a total of 84 incidents of gunfire on school grounds in 2019. There were 104 in 2018.

Of the incidents this year, 10 fatal incidents, including Thursday’s, involved attacks on others. There were other shootings that caused injury or death that involved those that died by suicide, a round that accidentally went off, attacks not targeting students or domestic incidents