MLK Day Festivities End in Gun Play in Florida, Killing 1 and Injuring 11

An event billed as a “family fun” MLK Day celebration in Florida Monday turned violent when rival gang members decided to spit on the legacy of Dr King and settle their dispute with guns rather than peaceful measures. It’s truly sad that rival gang members decided to add to a stereotype and incite violence, resulting in a mother being murdered in front of her child.

On Monday afternoon, more than 1,000 members of the community gathered together at Ilous Ellis Park in Fort Pierce, Florida, to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. After watching a parade, folks began enjoying another event on the agenda: the “MLK Car Show & Family Fun Day.” At approximately 5:20 p.m., car show participants were walking around and having a good time when, suddenly, they heard the sound of gunfire.

“It was mass chaos, as you can imagine, when shots rang out,” St. Lucie County Chief Deputy Brian Hester said at a press conference. “There were 1,000-plus people here at the event. And as the shots rang out, people were just running in all directions.”

The black community simply has to do better. Warring nations can put their guns down for a common moment like Christmas, but gangbangers can’t have a fun day commemorating one of history’s greatest leaders without some knucklehead pulling out his gat and letting the bullets fly. For what? What was settled? The only thing that happened was a young mother died, eleven others were shot, and the black community gets another reason to be stereotyped.

Police believe that “a disagreement of some sort” erupted between members of rival gangs and that some of those gang members then decided to resolve the disagreement with gun violence. In all, there were eight adults shot, one of whom was a 30-year-old mother who was struck in front of her 6-year-old daughter. The woman died at the hospital on Tuesday morning. Her name has not been released.

That is some fine police detective work, determining that “a disagreement of some sort” erupted. Maybe they were popping shots because the potato salad was so good? Sadly, too many in the black community have come to expect this type of violence any time there are mass gatherings. The city should also be considered partially responsible for not having metal detector wands or at very least mor foot patrol to ensure safety of people who WEREN’T looking to start trouble.

On Tuesday, Hester and Sheriff Ken Mascara gave a press conference to announce that the woman had died, to promise to bring to justice those responsible for this act of violence, which Mascara called “horrendous” and Hester called “heinous,” and to warn others against harboring the suspects or “helping” them “in any way.” Those who do will be prosecuted “to the fullest extent,” 

Full prosecution has to become the standard for violence like this. In too many communities there is no fear of criminal prosecution. People that perpetrate acts of violence like this need to be locked up and not see the light of day for decades. There needs to be a healthy fear of incarceration to discourage this insanity. Unfortunately, we aren’t there as a nation right now, and a young mother is dead as a result.

Notice: This article may contain commentary that reflects the author's opinion.

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