In the last week, several shootings throughout Michigan have highlighted the pervasiveness of gun violence amid the coronavirus public health crisis. Last Friday, in Detroit, 21-year-old Javar Harrell was shot and killed while sitting in a car in Detroit. On Tuesday, a mother and her baby were shot and killed in West Detroit in an alleged domestic dispute with her brother. And, on Wednesday in Lansing, 19-year-old Dhanthan Amadi-Devoe Boggan Jr. was shot and killed after an argument.
“Michigan needs to do better,” said Emily Durbin, a volunteer leader with the Michigan chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Gun violence is as pervasive as ever in the state, and it’s time our leaders act to make our communities safer.”
“Enough is enough,” said Megan Dombrowski, a volunteer with Wayne State University Students Demand Action. “As the world continues to protest the disproportionate impact of police killings and police use of force on Black people in America, we need to recognize that the same underlying systemic racism has resulted in the disproportionate toll that gun violence takes on Black Michiganders. It’s time for our lawmakers to address all these types of gun violence and make Michigan communities safer.”
These shootings come during a time when all across Michigan and the United States people are protesting the disproportionate impact of gun violence and police use of force on Black people in America. Black people in America are far more likely to be shot and killed by law enforcement than their white counterparts, and data from The Guardian shows that most people killed by police are killed with guns. According to Mapping Police Violence, Black Americans are shot and killed by police at three times the rate of white Americans, and 123 people have been fatally shot by police between 2013 and 2019 in Michigan.
On Thursday, lawmakers in the Michigan State Senate passed SB 945, a bill that would require all law enforcement officers be trained in de-escalation techniques, implicit bias, procedural justice, and mental health resources available to law enforcement officers, an important step in a long process to reduce police violence.
As a whole, gun violence takes a disproportionate toll on Black and brown communities. Black people in America represent the majority of homicide and nonfatal shooting victims in the U.S. and are far more likely than white Americans to be victimized by and exposed to assaultive gun violence.