On Sunday August 9 at 5:30pm, in Wilson, NC, 5-year-old white boy Cannon Hinnant was outside his house riding his bike when he was approached and shot by a 25-year-old black man, Darius Sessoms.
According to a neighbor who witnessed the shooting, “the young man just walked up to the little boy who was sitting on his bike, which he does every day,” and “point blank, and put a gun to his head” and shot Cannon.
Cannon’s father Austin Hinnant heard the gunshot and ran outside to find his fatally wounded son. “I screamed ‘somebody help me, please help me save my son’," he said. As he held his son, Hinnant could see Sessoms nearby still holding the gun, “pacing and frantic,” before he drove away. Cannon was taken to the Wilson Medical Center where he later died. His funeral was Thursday, August 13.
People are accusing mainstream media of ignoring stories this like because it doesn’t fit into the racism narrative.
Sessoms was arrested and is being held without bail. He was charged with first-degree murder. No information relating to motive has been released.
This story made local news, but mainstream media news outlets didn’t report on it until after social media outrage demanded they cover it. All over social media, people are accusing mainstream media of ignoring stories this like because it doesn’t fit into the racism narrative. If it had been a white man who shot a black child, it would have been on the mainstream news. Protests and riots would have broken out.
Some people argue that the story wasn’t, in a sense, “worthy” of national coverage because the perpetrator wasn’t a celebrity or a government employee, and he was quickly arrested and charged. Cannon’s family has received their justice.
More Children Die from Gun Violence Than from Almost Anything Else
Regardless of why mainstream media wasn’t covering this story from the start, this incident does present the opportunity to talk about the many children who are shot in inner cities and low-income neighborhoods.
In St. Louis, 13 children were shot within a six-month period in 2019. They were killed in their neighborhoods, “in the dilapidated parts of town most people are told to avoid.” Only one case has lead to an arrest and homicide charge.
Chicago is also experiencing a 34% murder rate increase compared to 2019. In June 2020, four toddlers and four teenagers were murdered. Some were in their homes or sitting in their family’s car.
In fact, death resulting from a gunshot injury is the second leading cause of childhood death (following car-related injury). And one 2017 study found that 85% of children 12 and younger who were shot to death were in their home. Compared to fact that mass shootings (like Columbine and Parkland) consist of less than 1% of gun deaths, “the data indicate that children who are the victims of gun violence are far more likely to experience it in incidents smaller in scope and greater in frequency than public mass shootings.”
A 2017 study found that 85% of children 12 and younger who were shot to death were in their home.
If that’s the case, and the numbers certainly seem to point that way, shouldn’t we be focusing on preventing child death from gun violence? In 2019, St. Louis was focused on doing just that by bolstering the communities where gun violence is most likely to occur.
According to The Guardian, St. Louis planned “to spend $500,000 on the lauded crime reduction program, Cure Violence, and another $1.5m on violence prevention efforts.” St. Louis “also has programs to provide food, recreation, and jobs to low-income people.”One of those programs included demolishing 700 unsafe houses and allowing “people to purchase homes for $1.”
“It’s a multipronged effort, but we all know this violence is a function of generational poverty and a lack of opportunity and it’s something that St Louis is not immune to just like all these other cities,” said Koran Addo, director of communications for the office of the mayor.
Just like any other social problem, it’s complicated and needs to be addressed from multiple angles. Bolstering communities with services and opportunities is great. Promoting a fair and virtuous legal system and police force is also great. But individuals also need to step up to the plate to do the work to transform their communities from within. All three factors need to happen for real and lasting change to occur. And until that does, it’s a sad fact that Cannon Hinnant won’t be the last child shot to death.