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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Young Black Girl Who Wrote Award-Winning Essay About Gun Violence Killed by Stray Bullet

Sandra Parks, young girl killed by a stray bullet

Sandra Parks, young girl killed by a stray bullet

Milwaukee, WI — Sandra Parks, a 13-year old Black girl, hated violence so much that she wrote an award-winning essay about the constant shootings in her hometown in Milwaukee and anywhere else. Two years later, while she was inside her room, she was hit by a stray bullet and died.

“Little children are victims of senseless gun violence,” Parks wrote noting the emotional damage gun violence causes young people like her. “… I sit back and I have to escape from what I see and hear every day. When I do; I come to the same conclusion … we are in a state of chaos.”

But last Monday, she herself became a tragic victim of gun violence. She was watching television inside her bedroom when a stray bullet fired from outside her home, shattering the windows, hitting and killing her.

“She took it like a soldier,” her sister, Tatiana Ingram, told WISN. “She just walked in the room and said, ‘Mama, I’m shot’ … The bullet wasn’t even for her.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called the gun violence in the city and in the whole country an “insanity.” He said at a news conference, “Sandra Parks … went into her bedroom. She never came out alive. Tragically, her death was caused by someone who just decided they were going to shoot bullets into her house and she’s dead.”

On Wednesday, two unidentified men were charged in connection to the shooting incident, including one who was found hiding in a closet after the incident. It is not yet clear if the house is the intended target.

Parks, who was in eighth grade at Keefe Avenue School before she died, wrote the essay in 2016 when she was in sixth grade. The essay won third place in the contest.

“Our first truth is that we must start caring about each other,” she wrote. “We need to be empathetic and try to walk in each other’s shoes. … We shall overcome, when we love ourselves and the people around us. Then, we become our brother’s keeper.”

In 2017, following her award-winning essay, Parks did an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio discussing why she chose gun violence as her topic.

“All you hear about is somebody dying or somebody getting shot and people do not just think about whose father or son or granddaughter or grandson who it was that was just killed,” she said.

Several people gathered outside their house for a vigil on Tuesday night. They held up placards with her essay as they ponder on the young girl’s calls against gun violence.

Her mother, Bernice Parks, said, “My baby was not violent. My baby did not like violence.”

“She was just an innocent child,” her mother wrote in the GoFundMe page created to support their family with the funeral services. So far, it has raised over $8,500.