Can baseball help bring our communities together?
The Washington Nationals won their first ever National League Championship Series on Oct. 15, beating the Saint Louis Cardinals 7-4. It was a great feeling to see my Nationals win the NLCS after so many years of heartbreaking playoff losses. Maybe that win and a World Series will help lift some of the pain on our community, as far as stopping the violence in our city.
However, the murder of a 15-year-old near Nationals Park in the James Creek Public Housing Complex encouraged me to write this article. I had just been in that neighborhood a few days earlier, doing an event with Second Story Cards. I am devastated and hurt when violence strikes upon kids. What will it take to stop the violence? How can we bring our communities together? The attacks of September 11, 2001, brought America together like I have never seen. It brought unity. Sports can also bring people together in unity and peace.
When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, a World Series Championship won by the Houston Astros helped bring that city together. We have a major crisis in our city and it’s the murder rate. I’m tired of hearing on the news about another murder in the District. As I write this article, the Nationals are in the W.S. and they lead the Astros 1-0 in the series. Also, there have been 141 murders in D.C., compared with 131 in 2018.
Two recent murders stand out: the murder of 10-year-old Makiyah Wilson last year and the murder of 11-year-old Karon Brown this summer. They were only kids who were out of school for the summer. These are senseless killings of kids. These killings are happening in these high-crime neighborhoods because of the lack of police presence. How can we have several gunshots ringing in these high-crime neighborhoods and no police? Believe it or not, these crimes affect not just the neighborhoods were the crimes happened, but our city as a whole. Those same people with those same guns could be in your neighborhood harming you and your kids. I too have lost family members to violence. My mother was murdered in the ‘60s due to gun violence. My nephew was murdered in a driveby shooting in 1993, and my sister was killed in her apartment with a handgun on March 8, 1989. I also had my youngest sister stabbed to death in 2001. I want no more pain.
It all starts in the community: “If you see something, say something” Then our city officials have to do a much better job of protecting our most dangerous neighborhoods — and our kids. Put more police substations in our most vulnerable neighborhoods. Start the “guns for cash” program. These are some of the first steps to keeping our streets and neighborhoods safe.
Eric Thompson-Bey is an artist and vendor with Street Sense Media.