CHICAGO – July in Chicago ended as it began: Mourning the death of a child whose only mistake was venturing outside to play when someone armed with a gun came to the neighborhood hunting for an enemy.
On Monday, two days after his department released statistics that revealed the month had been one of the deadliest in the history of the city, Police Superintendent David Brown repeated what has become a grim ritual of recounting the death of a child.
This time, the story was about Janari Ricks. “Nine years old, (he) was shot and killed while doing what every child in our city should able to do without a second thought ... playing with friends on a warm summer evening just outside his front door,” said Brown. “Now, instead of planning for his future, Janari’s parents are arranging for their child’s funeral.”
His death underscores a surge in gun violence in the the United States that has been building all year.
In New York City, there have been 237 homicides in 2020 compared to 181 for the same period last year.
In Atlanta, the totals are lower but the surge is apparent: 76 homicides so far this year compared to 56 for the first seven months of 2019. Of this year’s total number of homicides, 23, or nearly a third, were recorded in July alone.
It has been a similar story in Boston. After recording 25 homicides in the first seven months of 2019, Boston had 35 during the same period this year. And 15 of those were during July.
Just how many of the year’s victims are children is difficult to say. But every day headlines around the country tell story after story of children dying while doing nothing more than being children.