Things That Matter

Toddler Nikolette Rivera Was Shot And Killed In Philadelphia While In Her Mother’s Arms In Their Home

Philadelphia is mourning the loss of young Nikolette Rivera, 2, in the wake of her tragic death Sunday. At 3:30 p.m., the toddler was in her Puerto Rican mother’s arms in their Kensington home when an unidentified gunman with an AK-47 unleashed seven shots into the home. Nikolette was shot in the back of the head in her living room. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Her 24-year-old mother, still unidentified, was shot in the back and on the right side of her head. She’s currently hospitalized and in stable condition. A 33-year-old contractor hired to clean carpets took a bullet to his stomach. He remains in critical condition.

Ballistic evidence is pointing to a connection between the Rivera household shooting and another that occurred 8 minutes prior that has left an 11-month old baby a quadriplegic. 

Nikolette was “la luz de la casa,” her recovering mother told Telemundo.

Credit: @MattPetrillo / Twitter

“I am devastated without my daughter, but I have two other children for whom I have to be strong. My Nikolette was a star, the daughter every mother wanted to have, was my doll. She was the light of the house, that of her father and brothers,” Nikolette’s mother told Telemundo. Family members remember Nikolette as a fashionista who aspired to be an actress. Her mother said that Nikolette always stole the spotlight wherever she went–she was that mesmerizing. 

She already had her Halloween costume picked out, never to be worn.

Credit: @DeniseNakanoTV / Twitter

Nikolette was going to be a baby yellow shark for Halloween. Instead, members of the community are saying she’ll be an angel instead.

Nikolette’s abuela and siblings survived the attack.

Screenshot. Digital Video. Telemundo. 22 October 2019.

“They took my granddaugther,” Carmen Ortiz, Nikolette’s grandmother told Telemundo through tears. “Ella murió. Mi princesa, mi única princesa,” Ortiz cried over the death of her princess granddaughter. Carmen was inside the house along with Nikolette’s two siblings. They survived without any physical harm.

The community has rallied behind the Rivera family, bringing pink and white balloons to a vigil at Nikolette’s home.

Credit: @KYWNewsradio / Twitter

Family and friends gathered at the house Nikolette lived and died in to release a hundred pink and white balloons in memory of “la luz de la casa.” Neighbors are calling for an end to the madness. Vecina Leslie Navarro tweeted that she was lost in the Kensington neighborhood at the time Nikolette was killed. “I saw this on the news I cried for her & her family & I pray for this city when you can’t even sit in your HOME  with family & live in fear of a stray bullet!” she tweeted. “My deepest heartfelt condolences to her family! #stopthemadness #NikoletteRivera” Bill Kinkle tweeted “seeing all the pink and white balloons around the neighborhood broke my heart today. #notonemore #nikoletterivera”

Police Captain Jason Smith has verified that the family was targeted.

Screenshot. Digital Video. Telemundo. 22 October 2019.

“We can say that that specific house was the target of the shooting,” Captain Jason Smith said. “The gunman used an assault rifle and detonated the weapon at the entrance door and the windows. We recovered seven bullet casings in front of the residence.” 

Those bullet casings seem to match that of another shooting that occurred seven blocks and five minutes apart from the Rivera shooting. That shooting has left an 11-month-old baby in extremely critical condition. He was shot four times – in the head, chest, and pelvis – while in the backseat of the family car. If the baby survives, doctors expect him to have lost all use of his arms and legs.

Officials are calling on citizens to offer their help to identify the gunman with a $30,000 reward for information leading to arrests.

Credit: @MattDeLucia / Twitter

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenny hosted a press conference after a weekend of gun violence directed at babies. “We had a horrible weekend with all this armed violence,” he said. “We need the help of the people because we cannot do this alone and the federal government to stop the flow of weapons in the city.” Acting Police Commissioner Christine Coulter added, that “this could not continue happening, the fact that children were impacted by armed violence in a car and in their own home, It breaks the sense of security and we can’t live like this. There has to be someone who saw who committed these acts and we need to stop them.”

Rest in Power, Princesa Nikolette.

READ: ‘Hamilton’ Star Miguel Cervantes And Wife Kelly Cervantes Share Touching Posts About Daughter’s Death

Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot Has Overseen A Huge Drop In The City’s Violent Crime Right And This Is Why

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Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot Has Overseen A Huge Drop In The City’s Violent Crime Right And This Is Why

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Chicago, Illinois, is one of the mayor American cities that faces big challenges when it comes to fighting violent crime. Historically, the city has been renowned for the role that organized crime has had on politics and also because deep social inequality often leads to marginalization. Even though the city experiences high levels of criminality that need to be tackled, there are some promising signs as 2020 begins. And the newly elected mayor Lori Lightfoot might have a lot to do with it, and has some thoughts on why the city has experienced a double-digit fall on violent crime indexes. 

Lori Lightfoot, a queer Black woman, has had a great inaugural year in office.

Credit: Chicago Tonight / WTTW

Lightfoot is part of an important shift in local governments that has seen the number of female incumbents increase more than ever before. As NFINCE reported in its end of year recap of good things that happened in 2019, “with the April election of Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, a record number of black women (eight) served as mayors in the 100 largest cities in the United States.”

Lightfoot has been strong from day one, making masterful political moves such as firing a senior police officer that many had not dared to touch. As the Chicago Sun Times reports: “… she fired the retiring police superintendent she had celebrated one month earlier after accusing Eddie Johnson “lying” to her and to the public about the circumstances surrounding an embarrassing drinking-and-driving incident in mid-October. From a practical standpoint, Lightfoot’s decision simply means Johnson is gone a month earlier than the Dec. 31 retirement date he announced in October. But, from a political standpoint, it’s a sea change”. So yes, while in power she has made sure that the establishment knows that she has the upper hand. 

While cities like Baltimore experienced a spike in crime during 2019, Chicago’s went down by up to 10%!

As the non for profit The Crime Report points out: “Crime in Chicago is down. Though it hasn’t returned to 2014 levels, compared to late November of last year, reported crimes are down by 10 percent. That decrease is driven partly by significant declines in property crime. Violent crime has fallen by 11 percent”. This is great news for the Windy City, which has often been singled out by Republicans as evidence of Democrat failure in government. Let’s not forget that mamy Obama aides and Obama himself learnt to do politics in the tough Chicago scene and the city is a somewhat safe Democratic bastion.

In a televised interview, Lightfoot outlined what she thinks are the reasons behind this positive drop in violent crimes.

Credit: CNN / YouTube

The Chicago Mayor told CNN that one of the reasons for the drop is the alignment of the different government departments in the city to guarantee public safety. But above all, she stated, was the work with what she called “community partners” while being “on the ground”. This is a very similar approach that the Obama-school of Chicago politics advocates for. She also credits the support that the city government has been giving to victims of crime. Lightfoot also singled out the use of complex technology that alerts police when there is a shooting so they can act faster. Technology is being deployed in the most violent areas of the city. There is a constant flow of information that can be sent to the field to track cars, victims and shooters. 

But there is still a lot to do and the situation in Chicago remains less than ideal, so come structural changes are being put in motion.

Credit: WBEZ

As The Crime Report sums up: “Chicago is on track to record fewer than 500 homicides this year, a 35 percent decrease from 2016. Even if Chicago returned to its 2014 murder rate, that would still be three times higher than the national rate”. There are other challenges faced by the Chicago police, such as the low number of solved homicides in the city. 

One of the most significant changes to law enforcement structures enacted in 2019 was a considerable increase in the number of detectives in the city. As the Associated Press reports, the Chicago Police Department “is beefing up its detective ranks and spreading them around the city in the hope that it can catch up to departments in other major cities that solve a far higher percentage of homicide and other violent crime cases”. Authorities are optimistic about this change, as the AP further reports: “Police officials said will get detectives to crime scenes more quickly and give them a better chance of finding witnesses to interview” and “the move will foster public trust in communities, particularly those with high crime rates , and will allow residents to regularly see the same detectives”.

Violent crimes are down, yes, but other offenses that affect communities are up, as reported by The Wall Street Journal: “A rise in carjacking across Chicago has spooked residents even as police celebrate a drop in violent crimes such as shootings and homicides”. So there is still a lot of work to do. 

A Deputy Sheriff Is Fired After Video Shows Him Body Slamming 11-Year-Old Student

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A Deputy Sheriff Is Fired After Video Shows Him Body Slamming 11-Year-Old Student

@TheKingCenter / Twitter

A police officer in North Carolina has been fired and charged with assault after a video showing him body-slamming a student repeatedly has surfaced. Ex-police officer Warren Durham is being charged with misdemeanor assault on a child less than 12 years old. The video shows the officer slamming the child to the ground twice before picking him up by his hoodie and dragging him down the hallway.

School and law officials are investigating why a deputy sheriff would body slam a student during school. The student suffered minor injuries, and the sheriff was fired after first being put on paid leave.

Credit: @TheKingCenter / Twitter

It’s unclear when the incident took place at Vance County Middle School in Henderson, North Carolina. However, the Vance County Schools filed a complaint against the sheriff last week. The deputy sheriff was initially placed on paid leave but was ultimately fired for body-slamming the student in the hallway and then picking him up and dragging him away. 

A surveillance video of the incident went viral on social media, leaving many shocked over the sheriff’s unexpected behavior.

Credit: @TheKingCenter / Twitter

In the video, the sheriff is seen walking alongside the young boy in the hallway, when out of nowhere, he picks him up and slams him to the ground. The boy doesn’t move. He lays there for a second or two stunned before the sheriff picks him up again and drags him away. 

It’s unclear what the child did, or what was said because there’s no audio to the released clip.

Credit: @TheKingCenter / Twitter

“We are deeply concerned by the actions that took place,” Aarika Sandlin, a Vance County Schools spokeswoman, said in an email Sunday, according to the New York Times. “School and district officials are working closely and in full cooperation with the local authorities to address this matter consistent with school board policy and state laws. The safety of our students has been and continues to be of the utmost importance to our district.”

The student’s name has not been released.

Sheriff Curtis Brame said he was in complete awe when he saw the video of his colleague body-slamming the child. 

“We went over, and when we first saw the video, we were stunned, we were shocked,” Brame said to CBS17 News. “We all are parents and grandparents that have children at that same age, so it brought some great concern to us.” The video prompted the District Attorney to file charges of assault on a child less than 12 years old.

“This is just a stunning kind of incident. I don’t see any justification at this point for that officer’s behavior and action,” Vance County District Attorney Mike Waters said, according to ABC News. He added, “I don’t know what was said. I don’t think anything that was said or anything like that could justify his action. I don’t think that will be relevant to any determination.”

Just last week in Broward County, Florida, another sheriff was also fired for slamming a 15-year-old on the ground. 

While the April 18 incident didn’t occur in school, a video showed three law officers using excessive force on the teenager which including punching him in the chest. Last week at least one of those officers involved was fired. 

“When my deputies do the right thing, I will always support them and have their back. But I will not stand idly by while anyone violates his or her sworn duty to protect,” Broward County, Florida, Sheriff Gregory Tony said a press release last week according to ABC News. “Even a singular incident of excessive force by one of our deputies creates distrust between the community and our organization, and that is something I will not allow.”

The safety of students in schools has become a major issue in the U.S. after numerous school shootings over the years and the increased knowledge of police brutality.

Credit: YouTube

In March, the Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine released findings that between 1999 to 2017, 38,942 school-age (5 to 18) children were killed by guns. 

“It is sobering that in 2017, there were 144 police officers who died in the line of duty and about 1,000 active-duty military throughout the world who died, whereas 2,462 school-age children were killed by firearms,” said Dr. Charles Hennekens, the study’s senior author and an academic adviser at the medical college, told CNN

READ: From School Shootings To Change: Here’s What’s Happened Since The Tragic Shooting In Parkland, Florida