Update: A man named De'Eris Brown, 21, has been charged in the shooting death of Jamyla Bolden. Police have stated that Brown is not related to the young victim, but would not comment on the connection between the two (or if there is any). The investigation is still ongoing.
Brown was identified by a witness, and afterward an informant came forward to say that Brown had admitted shooting into the Bolden household on the night of Jamyla's death.
Brown has been charged with second-degree murder, two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, and three counts of armed criminal action.
This is not Brown's first charge, nor his first violent offense.
We hope Jamyla's parents can finally get the closure they deserve.
Jamyla Bolden was sitting in her mother’s bed, in her own home. There’s no place in the world that feels safer, especially for a 9-year-old child.
And as the unassuming little girl concentrated on her homework, someone started firing into the house. One shot struck her mother in the leg, but that was no horror compared to what happened next. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, having to bury your child.
“I’d never in a million years thought I’d be laying my daughter to rest,” her father said.
And her grandmother, who held her as she died, will always remember that devastating moment:
"I still have her blood on my hands. She was still breathing. I was telling her to just breathe,"
Ferguson police have not yet identified a suspect, but say that they are
“[doing] everything possible to find the person responsible.”
James Bolden, the 9-year-old's father, has pleaded with the public to come forward with any information they may have.
“Do it for a 9-year-old child that didn’t even get to see the rest of the world.”
In her short life, Bolden proved herself to be an extraordinary little girl. Her principal, Howard Fields, remembers the fourth-grader with fondness:
“Phenomenal student: so positive. Her energy was second to none. All of those things you hear about a great kid serve as adjectives for her.”
Her teacher, Teressa Kindle, expressed the same sentiments.
“We have to keep thinking about the blessed opportunity we had to encounter her presence. Everyone knew her drive for success: academic success, behavioral success, any success – kickball success, jump rope success,”
Bolden was well-loved by her classmates, too. Her classmates called each other brothers and sisters. In a community like that, it’s likely that Bolden’s death won’t just be felt as the passing of a peer, but as the loss of a sibling. One little boy expressed that he was glad to have known Bolden, if only for a short time.
“I’m grateful for the time I spent with Jamyla. I’ll never forget it and I’m forever grateful.”
A Little Girl’s Death Becomes Political Rhetoric
While her loved ones grieve, Bolden and her story have become the focus of a wider conversation concerning the Black Lives Matter movement. Critics of #BLM are asking why there isn’t sufficient uproar from that community concerning black-on-black crimes such as these.
This line of questioning assumes that the killer, who is yet to be identified, is, in fact black. Sure, Ferguson’s population are majority black (67.4%) but it’s still too early to make such accusations.
What’s more, the BLM movement is a response to the unique atrocity of having a figure of authority whose duty it is to protect you do the exact opposite. Expecting an equivalent movement to homogenize in reaction to black-on-black crime is like expecting similar uproar over white-on-white crime. Because, unsurprisingly, most murders are committed by people of the same race as that of the victim.
But is violence a problem in America, especially when it’s entrenched in other issues such as poverty, lax gun laws and the ongoing cycle of abuse? Absolutely. In the midst of an unspeakable trauma, Bolden's grandmother has refused to give out her name, in fear that she will be targeted next. There is absolutely a problem here.
Sgt. Fuller: the simple fact is our kids are dying at a young age at a fast pace and we as a community must come together. #JamylaBolden— Nancy Cambria (@nanecam) August 20, 2015
But we can't just point our fingers at the black community and then wash our hands clean of the problem. The conversation over violence needs to be had among all communities, regardless of race and ethnicity.
Finally, the fact that there’s a wider problem of violence in the US, whether it be black-on-black or white-on-white, doesn’t take away from the fact that police brutality is also an issue. It’s not either/or. We can have our hearts and minds set on more than one grievous systemic evil at once.