I have no way of reconciling or rationalizing. A child is dead. And because of that I am at the site of the shooting and there is a preacher at the mic behind me praising Jesus and urging everyone within the sound of his amplified voice to accept Christ as our lord and savior. I just wish he’d shut the hell up. Because right at that moment when I’m being yelled at not to deny myself ever-lasting salvation, the only thing undeniable is that I live in a world where 4-year-olds lose their lives to gang violence. They get shot in the chest walking with their sister and they die.
Where Bixel deadends into Court Street with Temple Street to the north and Vista Hermosa Park to the south, I stand front and center before an assemblage of candles and plush toys and flowers and bags of Cheetos and photos as others come, look, and go. I don’t come here to grieve. I don’t come here to represent. I come here to bear witness. And so I stare at the flickering flames until my eyes burn and I turn from them to find an LAPD patrol car cruising by, the officer driving solemnly waves at no one in particular. On a wall across the street is a whimsical mural representing the community and above that in whimsical lettering it reads “We will always remember you on our street.”
It’s a sentiment so painfully pertinent in light of the dark facts that I wonder if it was put up for the fallen child. It seems too elaborate to have gone up in the days since the killing.
A different preacher takes over at the mic talking about how everything’s going to be OK because God has a plan and I want to scream all sorts of disagreements with that damn platitude, but instead I turn back and I look behind the makeshift shrine to a brightly painted building, the letters ACLA adorn the porch. Below that reads “Art Community Land Activism.”
Below that are holes in the colorfully painted stucco that may very well be from bullets. Old? New? It doesn’t matter. There will be more where those came from.