A senseless tragedy last Monday began a difficult week in Kenosha, as news broke on the shooting death of Dakari Weldon at a home in the 2000 block of 60th Street.
Only 5 years old. Another young life abruptly ended by gunfire.
Within two days two 24-year-old Kenosha men were arrested. Javonn Cannon faces charges of homicide by negligent handling of a firearm, and Jovonn Cannon faces charges of leaving a loaded firearm within reach of a child.
The community came together a few hours after the arrests were announced at a Congregations United to Serve Humanity vigil to remember Dakari and to support his family, and to offer healing to the neighborhood and city at large. There have been too many shootings in recent weeks, but the focus was in the 2000 block of 60th Street this time.
“We’ve gathered together this afternoon because gun violence has happened in this neighborhood,” said Rabbi Dena Feingold of Beth Hillel Temple. “We stand with those who live here and work here. We believe that the Holy One is calling us to unity and peace.
“We believe that the Holy One draws near to us in our fear, and that, when we stand together, we are stronger.”
When it makes no sense, Kenoshans come together in peace, and this was an example that should serve to start a summer of care for each other. We must collectively guide and protect children, who are most vulnerable.
As the group of nearly 60 prayed for Dakari’s famliy, Veronica King, president of the Kenosha branch of the NAACP, discussed a plan to address the gun violence in the city.
“Racine and Kenosha now, we’re looking to do another gun buyback, where people, if you turn in a working gun, we give you $100. If you turn in a dead gun, we give you $50. But it gets the guns off the street,” she said at the vigil.
The Racine and Kenosha branches of the NAACP last held a gun buyback in Racine in July 2013 in partnership with the Center for Change and the Kenosha Health Department. King said it was successful.
She said they are working out dates, but she expects to have the buyback later this summer, and to make it easy for people to turn in their guns.
“No names,” King said, “just drop it off and leave.”
It’s one approach that can make a difference. Another approach is vigilance in the neighborhoods, people helping and protecting each other.
Let’s make sure the senseless death of Dakari Weldon is a wake-up call.
“In these moments that are hard, in these moments that are tragic, my belief as a pastor is that that’s when we especially come together and care for one another,” said the Rev. Jonathan Barker of Grace Lutheran Church. “ ... Think about how we can bring ever more love into our world.”