Week of protests overshadows shootings — Northsiders come out to sing and pray on babies’ behalf
Emotions were still raw a few hours after a 2-year-old boy and his 15-month-old sister were shot around noon Friday at the intersection of Penn and Lowry Avenues N in Minneapolis. The boy, Le’Vonte Jones, died at North Memorial Hospital.
Melvina Rockymore, the children’s grandmother, said her granddaughter Melia Jones is expected to survive. “She will stay in the hospital overnight,” she said of the toddler, who was reportedly shot in the leg.
Rockymore and other relatives spoke to the MSR during and after they watched Minneapolis police officers search her car for possible weapons Friday evening. Some at the scene expressed anger at what they deemed an illegal search.
But afterwards, Minneapolis Fourth Precinct Commander Lt. Mike Kjos showed us documentation that allowed them to do the search, and briefly explained his officers’ actions. “People approached me and [identified] the grandmother, and [speculated that] ‘There might be some retaliation, so could you check it out?’” said Kjos. “We went through the search and seizure [form] and did a quick search of the vehicle.”
Rockymore told us that the police asked her if they could check her car, and if she refused and drove off, they would pull her over and search her car. “To avoid all that, [the officer] let me search my own car, and that’s that,” reported Rockymore.
One relative, who identified herself as Rockymore’s sister but didn’t want her name publicized, told the MSR, “What I’ve seen [the police] do to my sister is real disrespectful,” she said. “This truck has come from the hospital to here. Why would you bring guns?” She admitted that her emotions are running in all sorts of directions. “It’s gone from hurt to sadness to anger.”
No weapons were found, noted Kjos. “We left on good terms. I think we have a good relationship built up with myself and Melvina,” he said. “I will help them as much as I can to try to solve this. They’ve been through enough today.”
Nonetheless, other family members were still upset with the ordeal and the tragic events of the day.
“We have been out here for a couple of hours,” complained Raven McMillian, the cousin of the young shooting victims. She argued that this latest shooting doesn’t seem to be getting that much attention. “You have support when a White man kills a Black man, but you won’t support the Black man and Black woman who are mourning their child.”
According to police on the scene Friday, no arrests have been made, but McMillian insisted, “We all know that Black people have a problem right now, and they are killing each other. How can you say Black lives matter if you are not putting in the work to help your fellow Black man?
“You have children getting shot in cold blood — somebody’s babies. Where [are] the Black Lives Matter people?” she asked. “You were out there when that man got shot in St. Paul less than 48 hours ago.
“This is sad that a 2-year-old and a 15-month-old are murdered and shot here and nobody is here to support us. Nobody is out here saying we are going to get justice. Is it because it’s a ‘Black-on-Black’ crime? Is it OK when Black people kill each other? That’s not cool!”
On Saturday, the MSR spoke with peace activist KG Wilson of Hope Ministry who helped organize a vigil with Brothers Empowered and other community members who sang, prayed, and chanted as cars honked in support. Wilson echoed McMillian’s sentiment regarding what seems to be a lack of outrage and protests over the shooting of the two toddlers, in comparison to the recent police shootings.
(Below, scenes from Lowry and Penn Saturday afternoon)
“We need to do the same things for our kids and our babies that are shot down in our community, as they do when a police shoots one of us down. We need to come out in numbers and protest and rally and let the whole world know that we are hurt by this.
“So now yesterday, it was a 2-year-old baby. If that don’t outrage you… If that’s not a reason to protest, rally, show up and camp out, then something is wrong with you as a people,” he said. (See the video above).
The MSR will continue to report on this story as it develops.
Anyone with any information is encouraged to text their tip to 847411 (TIP411). All texts are anonymous. You may also call the MPD Tip Line at 612-692-TIPS (8477) or call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com. Paige Elliott contributed to this story.
Updated 7/11/2016 10:35 pm
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Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.