What We’ve Learned About the Highland Park Shooting

Dozens of mourners gather for a vigil near Central Avenue and St Johns Avenue in downtown Highland Park, one day after a gunman killed at least seven people and wounded dozens more by firing an AR-15-style rifle from a rooftop onto a crowd attending Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade, Tuesday evening, July 5, 2022.

There is troubling news that came out of the July Fourth parade shooting. Robert Crimo III is accused of shooting and killing seven people and injuring over thirty more at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, IL, a suburb of Chicago. We are now learning that Crimo had at least a couple of prior encounters with the police, first when the police were called because Crimo threatened to kill himself, and again when he threatened to kill everyone in his family and the police confiscated a number of knives from the home that belonged to Crimo’s father, which they later returned. The Highland Park police informed the Illinois State Police about these incidents, but the State Police took no action. The reasons they give are that Crimo did not possess at the time a firearm owner’s identification card and had not applied for one, and also that no one in the family or anyone else had filed an official complaint. This doesn’t make sense to me. First, why would it matter that he didn’t have a firearm owner’s ID card? Wouldn’t the fact of his mental instability and threats of violence against himself and others be cause for denying him such an ID card? Second, why was it necessary that someone file an official complaint? The police knew of these incidents. Is that not enough to make an official record of them so that they show up on a background check to prevent such a person from purchasing a weapon? The police dropped the ball on this, and that mistake cost people their lives. What’s the point in having “red flag” laws and other gun control laws if those responsible for enforcing them don’t bother? Crimo passed four background checks to purchase weapons, one of which he used to attack those gathered at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park. He never should have been able to purchase those weapons.

We’re also learning that Crimo’s father, Robert Crimo Jr, sponsored his son so he could obtain a firearm owner’s identification card and purchase the weapons because his son was underage. Why would his father do this when he was obviously aware of his son’s mental health and violent background? The authorities are considering charging the younger Crimo’s parents for their neglect.

We’re also learning that another violent event occurred in South Side Chicago on the same July Fourth, but that has received little attention from politicians or the press. Five people were shot to death on the streets of South Side Chicago. You’ve likely not heard of that. Why? Is it because Black-on-Black crime in the inner cities doesn’t fit the political or media narratives of either angry White men killing masses of people, or of the biggest threat to Blacks being the police? Had a cop killed a Black person on the South Side of Chicago, you would definitely have heard of it. Five Black people being gunned down by other Black people, not so much. In point of fact, the racism and classism of our political and media leaders regard Black-on-Black crime uninteresting because they regard “those people” as being naturally more violent. Even if an innocent person or a child is killed, it receives a couple of days’ worth of attention, and then is heard of no more. But we’ll be hearing about Highland Park for weeks or months. We probably should be hearing about Highland Park for weeks or months. But we ought to be hearing about inner city violence and the innocent victims of such, too.

Seven people were killed and over thirty injured in Highland Park on the Fourth of July. At least ten people were killed and 62 injured in Chicago over the same weekend. Everyone knows about the first. Virtually no one knows about the second. Real progress will not be made in making our cities safe until we wrestle with why that is.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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