In less than one month, Wilmington, North Carolina was home to seven drive-by shootings that changed the lives of 15 black boys.
How many black boy lives must be altered before a change takes place?
Five days before Christmas five teenage boys were victims of an afternoon drive-by shooting that left Shane Simpson, 16, dead.
In the small town of Wilmington, mothers bury their black boys, by the hand of other black boys or watch their sons go to jail.
In the killing of Simpson, two black boys were charged with first-degree murder, will be tried as adults and are currently held on $9 million bail.
A day after Simpson’s mom laid her son to rest, a 19-year-old male was shot in the foot while running away from another afternoon drive-by shooting in Wilmington. Police are still searching for the two shooters.
Flashback to Dec. 16 three Leland black boys were arrested and charged for one of three drive-by shootings that took place Dec. 15. Miraculously no one was injured, but close calls as at least three homes and a vehicle were bullet struck.
Not even a week into 2016 and two weeks from Simpson’s death, a 14-year-old boy was shot and killed. Police quickly arrested a 19-year-old male who was charged in the shooting.
According to the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, in New Hanover County 13 people lost their lives to homicide last year — nine of those were black men, two were black boys under the age of 18.
With December littered with frequent drive-by shootings, and the first homicide of 2016 a 14-year-old boy, those numbers are on a path to increase.
“If you allow this to continue we will have more deaths in the future,”said City of Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous at a recent press conference.
“It’s your responsibility to help us protect this city. We can’t turn a blind eye to this any longer. Please step up, be responsible and protect your kids.”
Many of the crimes are deemed gang related. More than 200 individuals in Wilmington identify with being involved in a gang according to Evangelous.
“Let us know if you hear of bad things that are about to occur, or crimes that are going to occur, or when you hear about retaliation, step up, be apart of the solution,” he said.
The community seems to be ready to move in a positive direction.
“I believe people have had enough,” Evangelous said.
Scattered up and down Castle Street where Simpson was shot, “Stop The Violence” signs are planted in front yards and near sidewalks. In Simpson’s case, police received several anonymous tips leading to arrests.
In a world where a black boy can die unjust for holding a toy gun and black boys go to jail for killing each other, hold onto your black boy. His life is short, his life matters.