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 Internet Has Come Together To Fund The Funeral Of Leilah Hernandez — An Odessa Shooting Victim Who Had Just Celebrated Her Quince

Things That Matter

The Internet Has Come Together To Fund The Funeral Of Leilah Hernandez — An Odessa Shooting Victim Who Had Just Celebrated Her Quince

Our Texas familia has had a difficult and heartbreaking August. At the beginning of the month, a domestic terrorist attacked an El Paso Wal-Mart, targeting the city’s Latinx population. The attack resulted in 22 deaths and harmed dozens more. On the final day of August, another domestic terrorist went on a shooting spree along the West Texas interstate spanning two cities. The assault started in Midland, Texas and ended over 20 miles away in nearby Odessa. 

When the massacre was over, 7 people were dead and 25 were wounded.

Leilah Hernandez was one of those 7 who died in the Odessa/Midland shooting. 

Twitter / @BeccaFromTX

The 15-year-old had recently celebrated her Quinceañera and was the youngest victim to lose her life because of this assault. Hernandez died at the scene, wrapped in her older brother’s arms. The pair were out shopping with their parents for a truck. Her brother, Nathan, remains in Intensive Care as he receives treatment for his injuries. Understandably, Leilah’s family is reeling from her tragic loss.   

To help cover Hernandez’s funeral cost and medical bills for the family, her father set up a Go Fund Me campaign. The fundraiser reads, “Please help out our family as we had a tragedy today” and features a portrait from Hernandez’s Quinceañera.

Though the campaign has only been open for 3 days, it has raised over $24,000 for the grieving family. 

Twitter / @Nathan_H001

The campaign has been shared over 6,000 times and has nearly 500 contributors. Though the fundraiser has earned over double its goal, it is still accepting donations to help Hernandez’s family during this horrific time.

Besides monetary donations, the Go Fund Me page has been swarmed with condolences from those impacted by the news of Hernandez’s untimely death.

  Go Fund Me

Many donors expressed their frustration with our government’s failure to enact gun reform legislation. Many feel that the only way to avoid further deaths by assault rifles is to make the weapons more difficult to obtain. If our representatives act in our nation’s best interest and regulate these weapons, deaths like Leilah’s could be avoided 

Nathan’s bravery was acknowledged in the condolences and comments left on the fundraiser. 

Go Fund Me

Nathan’s injury resulted because he was attempting to shield his sister. He suffered a gunshot to his arm while holding Leilah. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to save his sister from the bullet that took her life but he held her and offered her comfort in her final moments. His bravery should be acknowledged and commended. We’re sure Leilah is very proud of her big brother.

Some saw parallels between Hernandez’s family and their own. 

Go Fund Me

This donor shared that her own daughter recently celebrated a Quince ⁠— just as Hernandez did this past May. The comparison goes to show that this could happen to any family. Mass shootings have become an epidemic and it seems that no space is safe. The thought that these tragedies could touch our lives is terrifying but it’s a reality we need to acknowledge. 

Others shared their condolences and prayers for the family. 

Go Fund Me

“We have to help,” this comment begins. Though prayers alone won’t change the world we live in, hopefully, the enormous outpouring of love, well wishes, and prayer will provide some comfort to the Hernandez family. 

We hope Leilah’s family and the families impacted by this tragedy are comforted by the support being shown by their communities. Let’s continue to help these victims in their recovery and hope something changes to avoid the next seemingly preventable tragedy. 

 
 
 
 

Walmart Makes History: Announces End Of Sales Of Handgun Ammunition And Asks Customers To Leave Their Guns At Home

Things That Matter

Walmart Makes History: Announces End Of Sales Of Handgun Ammunition And Asks Customers To Leave Their Guns At Home

@cnnbrk / Twitter

After another deadly mass shooting, this time in Odessa and Midland, Texas, which left seven people dead and another 25 injured, it is clear that people in this country experience more gun violence than anywhere else in the world. Mass shootings in America are now a daily occurrence. Sounds like we’re exaggerating, but it’s true. Saturday’s shooting in Texas was the 283 mass shootings in the country, and we’re only on day 244 of the year, which means there are more shootings than there are days of the year. What would make it all stop? Changes in gun laws, perhaps? There are some baby steps taking place right now and a lot of people are pleased with this news, but not the ring-wing sticklers. 

Walmart announced today they are ending the sale of handgun ammunition that can also be used for assault-style weapons. 

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon wrote a letter to his employees in response to the shootings in El Paso, Texas, Southaven, Mississippi, Dayton, Ohio, and last weekend’s shootings. 

“In Southaven and El Paso, our associates responded to anger and hate with courage and self-sacrifice. Our immediate priorities were supporting our associates and the impacted families and cooperating with law enforcement. In parallel, we have been focused on store safety and security. We’ve also been listening to a lot of people inside and outside our company as we think about the role we can play in helping to make the country safer. It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable.”

McMillon went on to say that the company has previously made other changes including ending the retail of handguns and military-style rifles such as the AR-15. They also raised the age limit to purchase a firearm or ammunition to 21, and require a “green light” on a background check while federal law only requires the absence of  “red light,” and they also videotape when people are purchasing guns, and only allow certain trained associates to sell firearms.

Here are the new gun retail changes that Walmart has announced: 

  • After selling through our current inventory commitments, we will discontinue sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber that, while commonly used in some hunting rifles, can also be used in large capacity clips on military-style weapons; 
  • We will sell through and discontinue handgun ammunition; 
  • We will discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, marking our complete exit from handguns.
  • We are respectfully requesting that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores or Sam’s Clubs in states where “open carry” is permitted

McMillion also asked the country’s lawmakers to “move forward and strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger.”

Some people on social media praised this move by Walmart including Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. 

“Open carry is dangerous, and we applaud Walmart — one of the largest companies in America — for taking this important action,” Watts said in a press release statement. “No one should have to wonder if the guy with a gun strapped to his back in the milk aisle is a threat. Moms Demand Action volunteers have been asking Walmart to block open carry in its stores since the 2014 shooting death of John Crawford III in an Ohio Walmart, a call for action that intensified after last month’s mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart. This is a very significant step from one of America’s best-known companies; it was made possible by a cultural shift that people like you have helped achieve, showing that Americans want to be kept safe from gun violence. Our elected officials should remember that reality when they return to Washington next week.”

Naturally, the National Rifle Association (NRA) was livid after this announcement and told their followers to buy their gun accessories elsewhere. 

Those on the conservative side have already launched into a #boycottWalmart with some tweeting, “Y’all just a bunch of liberals. Never going to your stores again @Walmart @WalmartInc #boycottwalmart.” Another said, “Your decision to stop selling guns and ammo is just another reason I have STOPPED SHOPPING at your stores. If you desire to punish all because of the actions of a few then you WILL NOT get my money! I hope you go bankrupt!”

The likelihood of Walmart going bankrupt because some are choosing to boycott after this new stand against (some not all) guns is highly impossible. 

Walmart is, after all, the largest retailer in the country, so where else can people get a deal on cereal and toys? Is Kmart still around? Either way, we applaud Walmart for making small changes that will make a bigger impact. And while they might lose money, they will help save lives. 

READ: A Country Is On Edge As White Men Threaten To “Shoot Up” Walmart’s From Texas To Florida