by M. Anthony Davis
Last Saturday, Sept. 25, at around 2 p.m. at Judkins Park, home of the CD Panthers youth football team, a weekend game was interrupted by a stream of gunfire. The park, while filled with youth, parents, and community supporters, was extremely close to becoming the site of another gun-related tragedy in our community.
The kids playing football were 8 and 9 years old. Luckily, no one was shot, but the event itself was still traumatic and left community members wondering what they could do to provide safety for the youth.
“People were alarmed,” CD Panther TraeAnna Holiday said. “People were scared. And honestly, it meant some real adjustment for the coaches, as they are having to now navigate those kinds of situations with the teams.”
In the aftermath of the events last Saturday, many community members have put out calls to action asking for people, specifically Black men, to show up and take a stand for the safety of our youth.
“The call to action is a call to community,” Wyking Garrett, CEO and president of Africatown Land Trust, said. “Specifically, to the Black men in our community. To uncles, brothers, fathers, grandfathers, and sons to show up for the CD Panthers in the wake of recent gun violence that’s been going around and got close to the field last Saturday.”
That sentiment is shared by Converge Media’s Omari Salisbury, who interviewed Seattle Police Department Chief Adrian Diaz Thursday, Sept. 30. Salisbury informs Chief Diaz about the community call to action and also shares a video clip in which Terrell Elmore, who has been a CD Panthers coach for 25 years, is giving instructions to youth football players on how to evacuate the field in cases of emergency.
“As a parent, it’s just disheartening,” Holiday said. “But it’s also, unfortunately, a real thing. With this rise in gun violence that we’re seeing throughout King County and in our City of Seattle, it is a real thing that all of us are having to navigate around.”
Unfortunately, the gunfire at Judkins Park was not the only shooting of the weekend. According to reports, an argument inside La Familia Sports Pub and Lounge in Des Moines led to gunfire in the parking lot that left six people wounded and three people dead on Sunday morning.
Gun violence has been on the rise in King County. According to a July report from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, 196 people were shot between January and June 2021. Fatalities due to gunshots are up 48% from previous years.
With the spike in gun violence and drastic increase in fatalities, and now gunfire at a CD Panthers game — a space that has always felt sacred to the community — community members say it is now on all of us to assist with keeping our youth safe.
“We’re not waiting for authorities, government, police, anybody else to get it right,” Holiday said. “We have to actually show up in instances like this. I’m appreciative that Africatown, the coaches, other organizations, and individuals have come together to push this message of bringing a presence to these games with our Black men. I think being very specific about our men being there is really important. It’s also a beautiful thing how community comes together in these moments to make things right and to balance out the wrongs — to not wait on anyone else but to take it upon ourselves, to do everything we can to make sure that our young people are safe.”
The CD Panthers Homecoming is this Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at Judkins Park 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Community members, with an emphasis on Black men, are asked to come to Judkins Park to provide a positive presence at practice Friday, Oct. 1, and at the Homecoming Oct. 2.
For more info, visit the CD Panthers’ Facebook page.
M. Anthony Davis (Mike Davis) is a local journalist covering arts, culture, and sports.
📸 Featured Image: A 2019 CD Panther practice. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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