Twenty-two homicides. Fifty-four days.
Members of the anti-violence group Mothers of Murdered Offspring recited that grim statistic Sunday afternoon as they turned out to an east Charlotte cemetery to protest the surge in Charlotte’s murder rate this year.
Put another way, Charlotte has so far seen, on average, almost three murders per week in 2019. That compares to a little over one per week last year.
“We’re at the point that we could be at record numbers,” said Lisa Crawford, the administrator for Mothers of Murdered Offspring who was among those who turned out for the windy news conference. “And if we don’t stand up and say, ‘People look. It could be you. It could be me,’ we could be another Chicago.”
Dee Sumpter also showed up for the event at Sharon Memorial Gardens. That’s where her daughter, Shawna Denise Hawk, was buried in 1993 after she was murdered by serial killer Henry Louis Wallace.
“I can’t believe, 26 years later, that I’m still here. And I’m still making this plea,” Sumpter said. “We can’t let the blood of our children run through the streets of a city that views itself as progressive. It’s unacceptable.”
The event’s organizers urged Charlotteans to do four things to stem the murderous trend:
- “See something. Say something.” They urged citizens to call Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department detectives or the department’s Crime Stoppers team at 704-334-1600.
- Be aware that “Black Lives Matter.” Too often, Crawford said, black people are killing black people. “It’s become part of the norm,” she said. “We have got to stop killing each other.”
- ”Be your brother’s keeper.” Often, Crawford said, people know when friends and loved ones have beefs with others – and they could step in before things turn deadly.
- “Get involved.” One way, Crawford said, is to teach children that they shouldn’t celebrate violence. She pointed to the many kids who are allowed to play video games where the objective is to kill others. “Parents — What are we doing?” Crawford asked.
Sgt. Ricky Robbins, supervisor of CMPD’s victim’s services unit, also turned out for the event. He acknowledged that the city is going through a particularly murderous period, and said that police must work with others to determine what is causing it — and how to stop it.
“This is a business city,” Robbins said. “And people want to believe they’re safe. We have to keep them safe.”
It seems like history is repeating itself in Charlotte. Here’s a video chronicling 1993 as being the highest murder toll ever, with 129 murders that year.