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.”

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Federal Judge Breaks Her Silence After Her Son Was Murdered By Disgruntled Attorney

Things That Matter

Federal Judge Breaks Her Silence After Her Son Was Murdered By Disgruntled Attorney

Eyewitness News ABC7NY / YouTube

Federal Judge Esther Salas is preparing to bury her 20-year-old son. Her son was killed by a disgruntled disguised as a FedEx driver on his birthday weekend. Judge Salas’ husband was hospitalized after being shot multiple times. She is asking for better protection got federal judges and their families.

Judge Esther Salas is demanding better protection and privacy for federal judges.

The video opens with Judge Salas explaining the events that unfolded that day. The emotion grows as she talks about her son finally turning 20 and his excitement to be with his parents. She recalls her son saying that he just wanted to stay and talk to her where the doorbell rings.

Judge Salas remembers her son running up the stairs to answer the door, curious about who it could be. When the door opened, Judge Salas heard gunshots and someone screaming “no.” When she got to her family, she learned that someone dressed as a FedEx delivery person came to the door and opened fire. The son jumped in front of his dad to protect him and died from a bullet wound to the chest.

As a result of the killing, Judge Salas is asking for politicians to do something to protect federal judges. As it stands, the address and other personal information on federal judges are readily available online. Judge Salas wants a way for that information to be hidden from the public.

“At the moment there is nothing we can do to stop it, and that is unacceptable,” Judge Salas said in the video. “My son’s death cannot be in vain, which is why I am begging those in power to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench.”

She added: “My family has experienced a pain that no one should ever have to endure. And I am here asking everyone to help me ensure that no one ever has to experience this kind of pain. We may not be able to stop something like this from happening again, but we can make it hard for those who target us to track us down.”

Judge Salas’ video is a hard video to watch as her raw emotion breaks through.

It is devastating to have to bury a child. It is something no parent should have to do. For Judge Salas, she is burying a child that was taken from her in a senseless act of violence perpetrated by a self-proclaimed anti-feminist attorney.

People on social media are standing with the judge in asking for better data protection to save lives.

Data issues have long plagued the Internet and activists want to change that. For many, the issue is protecting data from falling into the wrong hands or for companies, like Facebook, to profit off of our data. For Judge Salas, it is a matter of life or death to protect her colleagues on the bench and their families.

READ: The Government Accountability Office States That ICE And The FBI Are Using DMV Data To Track Undocumented Immigrants

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One Year Later, The Latino Community Remembers The El Paso Shooting

Things That Matter

One Year Later, The Latino Community Remembers The El Paso Shooting

Mario Tama / Getty Images

On August 3, 2019, a man entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas and killed 23 customers and injured 23 more. The shooter, Patrick Crusius, went to the Walmart with the expressed purpose of killing Mexican and Mexican-Americans. One year later, the community is remembering those lost.

One year ago today, a man killed 23 people in an El Paso Walmart targeting our community.

The Latino community was stunned when Patrick Crusius opened fire and killed 23 people in El Paso, Texas. The gunman wrote a manifesto and included his desire to kill as many Mexicans and Mexican-Americans he could in the El Paso Walmart. The days after were filled with grieving the loss of 23 people and trying to understand how this kind of hate could exist in our society.

Representative Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso, is honoring the victims today.

Rep. Escobar was on the scene shortly after the shooting to be there for her community. The shooting was a reminder of the dangers of the anti-Latino and xenophobic rhetoric that the Trump administration was pushing for years.

“One year ago, our community and the nation were shocked and heartbroken by the horrific act of domestic terrorism fueled by racism and xenophobia that killed 23 beautiful souls, injured 22, and devasted all of us,” Rep. Escobar said in a statement. “Today will be painful for El Pasoans, especially for the survivors and the loved ones of those who were killed, but as we grieve and heal together apart, we must continue to face hate with love and confront xenophobia by treating the stranger with dignity and hospitality.”

El Pasoans are coming together today to remember the victims of the violence that day.

Latinos are a growing demographic that will soon eclipse the white communities in several states. Some experts in demographic shifts understand that this could be a terrifying sign for the white population. These changing demographics give life to racist and hateful ideologies.

“When you have a few people of color, the community is not seen so much as a threat,” Maria Cristina Morales, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at El Paso, told USA Today about the fear of changing demographics. “But the more that the population grows – the population of Latinos grow for instance – the more fear that there’s going to be a loss of power.”

The international attack is still felt today because of the constant examples of white supremacy still active today.

“It doesn’t occur to you that there’s a war going on, and there’s always been a war going on—the helicopters the barbed wire—but you just kind of didn’t see it,” David Dorado Romo, an El Paso historian who lost a friend in the shooting, told Time Magazine.

The sudden reminder of the hate out there towards the Latino community was felt nationwide that day. The violent attack that was planned out revealed the true cost of that hate that has been pushed by some politicians.

“El Paso families have the right to live free from fear, and I will continue to honor the victims and survivors with action,” Rep. Escobar said in her statement. “Fighting to end the gun violence and hate epidemics that plague our nation.”

READ: As El Paso Grieves Their Loss, Here Is Everything We Know About The Victims Of The El Paso Massacre, Which Were Mostly Latino

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