Jazmine Barnes, a seven-year-old black girl, was buried this week in Harris County, Texas. She was shot and killed while…
Jazmine Barnes, a seven-year-old black girl, was buried this week in Harris County, Texas. She was shot and killed while sitting in the car with her mother and siblings on the morning of December 30.
Initial reports indicated that the shooter was a white man . These reports led to a national boast that this was a racially motivated attack. Activists and politicians demanded that the shot be investigated as a hate crime. But in the days since the shot, deputies in Harris County have two black men in relation to the shot.
Gene Demby talked to David Greene of Morning Edition about what this incident reveals the current landscape of race and violence in the United States.
The interview has been edited and condensed.
David Greene: Can you walk us through the timeline of events in this story?
Gene Demby: Jazmine Barnes was in a car with her mother and three sisters on December 30 near a Walmart when shots rang out. Her mother shot in the arm but survived. But Jazmine, who was seven, was shot in the head and died on stage. The other girls in the car during shooting said that the Scots came from as a red pickup truck driven by a white man. And The New York Times reports that there was another unresolved shot in 2017 in the same area that witnesses say was committed by a white man in a Ford pickup.
So, in combination with a police sketch of the suspect created a real fear that this was a racially motivated attack.
But we now know that the suspect shooter was black.
Right. This week, the police have charged two suspects, Larry Woodruffe, the alleged shooter and Eric Black Jr., the alleged driver. The police say they think shooting was a case of incorrect identity. Eric Black and the alleged shooter, they say, tried to retaliate against someone they had argued with before, and the misidentified car Jazmine Barnes was in.
The police said they believe both the white male and the red pickup that the girls in the car saw were real but probably belonged to an innocent opponent who ran away during the confusion of the shot.
What had to do with this story
In the days after the shot and before the arrest, Shaun King, an activist who is very prominent on social media, offered a reward of $ 100,000 for information that led to the suspected arrest and helped to publish the police sketch of the supposed white suspect During the same period, Sheila called Jackson Lee, a Houston congresswoman, Barne’s fatality.
The context here is important. Remember that it was only two decades ago that a black man named James Byrd Jr. was lynched by white supremacists about two hours from Harris County. To kill helped fuel federal hate crime laws. Later in 2015 there was mass photography of a white supremacist by a historic black church in South Carolina and the deadly car attack of a white nationalist in Charlottesville 2016. The FBI said in a report last autumn that hate crime was up 17 percent in 2017 – the third straight the year that hate crime went up. So the suspicions that this was a racially motivated attack, even though they were wrong, are based on this very real trend line around race between women.
If this suspect was identified as black from the beginning, how could it have changed this story?
Crime with both black victims and black perpetrators does not usually make national news. Just two weeks before Jazmine Barnes was shot, another 7-year-old in Harris County was seriously injured in a run. When these crimes bubble up to this level, it is usually relied upon to wave away concerns about structural racism or police violence – you know, worry-trolling as, “Well, how about black-and-black crime?”
Unfortunately, there are many Jazmine Barneses in America, and lots of neighborhoods gathering and memorializing slaughtered little children like her. It says that the relatively common common common occurrence is one of a few conditions where these deaths would receive national coverage.