Aavielle Wakefield died yesterday. She died in Cleveland. She was five months old. She was perfectly innocent and precious. She was in her car seat when a bullet lodged in her chest. She was with her mother and her grandmother on the way to the grocery store, a mundane activity millions of sweet children experience with their parents. Except what happened near Spears Avenue was far from ordinary. What happened as the car went along East 145th Street was far from sane. What happened Thursday was hardly fair; it was cruel, sad, tragic. Little Aavielle had a bullet in her chest. Little Aavielle Wakefield died yesterday.
It was a drive-by shooting. That was the explanation but that wasn’t the reason. Frankly, there are no reasons.
A couple of weeks ago, Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks was commenting on the #blacklivesmatter social movement and their mission to illuminate police brutality against African Americans and their fight for justice in the criminal courts. Sherman accepted as truth their cause, but when he said “all lives matter”, he was referring to African Americans not killed by police but killed by each other. Those numbers seemingly hit the stratosphere year after year, and if you are part of that sad club (as I am) of having to attend a funeral and later a criminal trial then the pain of this new reality always makes you ask, why? Why? Damn, why?
LeBron James felt that same frustration. He tweeted out his anger and outrage.
“Like seriously man!!!! A baby shot in the chest in Cleveland. It’s been out of control but it’s really OOC. Y’all need to chill the F out. C’mon Man let’s do and be better! Don’t fall into the trap. This can’t be the only way. Accept more from yourselves. #TheLand #TheNation
As to date, there have been no arrests in the crime; there has been a lot of disgust, and empathy for Aavielle’s family and money coming in to help with expenses. LeBron’s reaction was in line with just about everyone who heard that a five month old was murdered in Cleveland, another drive-by victim.
The Police Chief, Calvin Williams, fought through tears as he tried to make sense of the senseless. “It’s tough. Enough is enough.”
Mayor Frank Jackson acknowledged how a crime against the community is a crime against mankind. It was true when Aavielle Wakefield was killed in her car seat because of a drive-by. It was true when Ramon Burnett, a five year old, was killed in a drive-by in front of his grandmother’s house. And Major Howard, a three year old, murdered in a drive by.
It’s also a paradox. LeBron James and his children are immune from such horrible consequences because of who he is in the world, how rich he is, how famous he is, how accomplished he is, how heroic, how hard he has worked. But, LeBron James and his children are not immune from such horrible consequences because the city that produced murdered children, grieving parents, calculating criminals, anger and rage, that city is theirs. They are Cleveland- moral Cleveland and humble Cleveland and compassionate Cleveland.
And so, today, Cleveland mourns again. Because the unthinkable just become fact.
photo via Wikimedia.org