Remembering Sandra Parks: Girl Who Wrote Essay About Gun Violence Killed by Stray Bullet

Sandra Parks, at the young age of 13 (only an eighth-grader), was killed by a stray bullet—a bullet not even meant for her. She was the 2016-2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. contest winner. She won with her essay on gun violence. She explained how she had to put on her headphones many times to try to be able to escape from what she hears every day. 

Sandra Parks lost her life to gun violence. Like most kids her age in the same area, she was enduring being stuck in the middle of gun violence. This special young girl’s life was taken by Isaac Barnes, the shooter, and Untrell Oden, the accomplice that hid the guns for Barnes. Barnes was charged with driving and operating a vehicle without consent on Nov. 2 and was supposed to be in court that Monday morning, but didn’t show up to his hearing. Hours later he shot and killed Sandra Parks. Oden had been convicted of attempted robbery back in Feb. of 2011; he received a sentencing of five years in prison that came with five years extended supervision. Barnes was charged with a count of first-degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, a count of endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon and a count of possession of a firearm by a felon. Oden was also charged with two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Both of these men should have been restricted from buying or even having access to firearms at all.

Under federal law, those convicted of a felony are forbidden from purchasing or possessing firearms and explosives. Yet as the result of a 1965 amendment to the Federal Firearms Act of 1938, convicted felons were allowed to apply to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for "relief" from the "disability" of not being able to buy and possess guns. This is how felons are able to get their hands on firearms, besides buying them off the streets.

Courtesy: The Washington Post

“My baby did not like violence,” says Bernice Parks, Sandra Park’s mother. Sandra didn’t like violence and wrote an essay detailing her experience called “Our Truth.” Parks was bringing awareness for severe cases of gun violence one year and then the next year died at the hands of that same “senseless gun violence.” She was bringing awareness to gun violence and awareness of the black-on-black crimes in her home city of Milwaukee and across the U.S. These black-on-black crimes occur mostly in predominantly black neighborhoods. 

Courtesy: Twitter

Black-on-black crimes are mainly gang-related. These gangs came about and still thrive because predominantly black neighborhoods are typically the ones that are suffering in ways such as high poverty and unemployment that lead to gang activity. When they don’t have access to jobs and ways to provide for their families legally, they turn to the streets, and the streets accept them with open arms—this leads to gangs raising the youth, turning neighborhoods into ones that are full of violence. Sandra Parks left us with what was her simple solution: judging one by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. This could balance the playing fields, which could then lead to a decrease in black-on-black crimes.