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Juneteenth Celebrations Marred by Shootings, COVID Spikes

‘There’s something going on at the moment, these underlying tensions…’

Juneteenth Celebrations Marred by Shootings, COVID Spikes
Police tape is seen near the scene of a shooting early Monday, June 22, 2020 in Charlotte. / PHOTO: Associated Press

(Ben Sellers Liberty Headlines) President Donald Trump quipped that he had made Juneteenth celebrations famous after igniting controversy for scheduling his recent return to the campaign trail on the customary African–American day of celebration.

But with the informal holiday commemorating the June 19, 1865 emancipation of slaves now on more radars than in past years, a spate of violence and increase in coronavirus outbreaks due to a lack of social-distancing precautions made the 155th anniversary seem more like a day that will live in infamy.

“There’s something going on at the moment, these underlying tensions,” James Densley, a professor of law enforcement and criminal justice at Metropolitan State University, told the Associated Press.

“Everyone’s been cooped up for so long with the pandemic, and then we had this sort of explosion of anger and grief after George Floyd’s killing,” he said.

Several major cities saw tragedies, including shooting deaths, that were directly related to either the supposed celebrations or linked with recent racial-justice protests in the wake of George Floyd’s Memorial Day death while in police custody.

Among those where some occurrence marred the jubilant festivities:

  • Seattle, where the shooting death of a 19-year-old man occurred in the CHOP autonomous zone
  • Chicago, which saw more than 100 people shot over the weekend and at least 14 deaths—including a 3-year-old boy who was killed while riding in the back seat of a car with his father.
  • Atlanta, where ongoing race riots resulted in at least one woman being shot during a protest on behalf of police victim Rayshard Brooks
  • Detroit, where 18 different shootings over the weekend led to four people dead and 25 injured
  • Aurora, Illinois, where a 17-year-old was fatally shot during a Juneteenth celebration
  • Minneapolis, where gunfire broke out at a popular nightlife and retail injuring 11 people early Sunday, and a man was fatally shot in the city’s downtown
  • Syracuse, NY, where nine were wounded by gun violence at a birthday party
  • Charlotte, NC, where a block-party celebration resulted in a pedestrian being hit, followed by a shooting when first-responders arrived, which in turn resulted in three shooting deaths and 11 injuries

The episodes collectively hinted at a possible fraying of the seams for the movement. Prior rioting already had led to more than a dozen deaths and untold destruction on innocent victims.

However, several of these occurrences, targeting the very communities that the protesters are seeking to elevate, hinted the previously unified opposition of the protestors to law enforcement giving way to a greater demand for a return to order.

In the Seattle social-experiment, which has lasted roughly two weeks with cooperation from city officials, the CHOP zone’s so-called warlord, Raz Simone, was mocked on Twitter for attempting to blame medics and other first responders who were unable to treat the shooting victim.

Following the tragedy, Mayor Jenny Durkin announced that she would seek to have police peacefully retake the CHOP in the near future. The announcement also came as Trump pointedly criticized the failed local response during his rally in Tulsa on Saturday.

As with the Seattle incident, the Charlotte shooting revealed  some of the deep flaws in recent anti-authority rhetoric when the community is reliant upon emergency assistance.

Raw video showed that the arrival of an ambulance with flashing sirens appeared to be what triggered a round of repeated gunshots.

Afterward, revelers on the scene were far from cooperative with the police, even though the city and its police force are run entirely by Democrats, many of the officials being African–American themselves.

Some recorded and posted video in which they yelled at the police for trying to restore order using weapons.

The suspects in the shooting also remained at large due to the reluctance of witnesses to come forward.

Most notably, though, the clear lack of social distancing, face masks and other precautions invited stern criticism as North Carolina sees a spike in second-wave coronavirus cases.

Many reports have indicated that the African–American community is particularly susceptible to the disease.

And yet, few raised concerns as Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and other civic leaders marched alongside protesters in recent weeks, actively encouraging the mass crowds and even painting “Black Lives Matters” on a major downtown roadway.

Already, at least two other major urban centers in the state, Raleigh and Greensboro, have now decreed face masks mandatory, and Charlotte is likely to follow.

But attempting to enforce the rule in communities where resistance has calcified in recent weeks, could pose an even bigger dilemma for the authorities who had allowed it to continue unabated as they now try to impose new restrictions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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