BY Warner Todd Huston, The Western JournalJune 20, 2023
1 year ago
 | June 20, 2023
1 year ago

Juneteenth Festival Abruptly Canceled After Two Teens Are Shot

A Juneteenth celebration that was scheduled to last two days in Asheville, North Carolina, was abruptly canceled when gunfire erupted, sending two minors to the hospital on the event's first day.

The shooting occurred on Saturday just as the day's Juneteenth festivities were coming to a close.

Sunday's activities were canceled 12 hours before the second day's events were to begin with an announcement from the Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County.

“We are saddened that a day of celebration and community unity was darken[ed] by a cloud of violence. We pray for the healthy recovery of the victims, for justice to prevail, and that all community members be safe and at peace," organization president Oralene A.G. Simmons said in a Facebook post early Sunday morning.

The shooting occurred just before 9 p.m. Saturday in the Court Plaza area of Pack Square Park in Asheville, according to The News & Observer in Raleigh.

"Officers quickly arrived on the scene and found two juveniles who were victims of gunshot wounds," the Asheville Police Department said Sunday in a post on its Facebook page.

"Officers were able to locate two suspects nearby and took them into custody. Detectives were able to clear one and identify the other as the principal offender," the department said.

"With the assistance of the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office, the juvenile was charged with two counts of Felonious Assault with Deadly Weapon with Intent to Kill Inflicting Serious Injury," it said.

Officers said they recovered a 9mm pistol and “a host of physical evidence that littered the park.”

They said the name of the suspected shooter, who is 16, was being withheld because the suspect is a juvenile.

The Asheville event is far from the only Juneteenth event that was marred by violence.

A shooting during a celebration Sunday in Willowbrook, Illinois, left at least 20 people wounded and one person dead.

“It was chaotic. Chaos, pure chaos,” said witness Nayetta Reed, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Reed said she had helped break up at least two fights among teenage girls before the shooting but did not think the shooting was related to those events.

It has happened in the past as well. Last year's Juneteenth event in Washington was beset with violence and led to the death of a 15-year-old boy.

Juneteenth marks the anniversary of June 19, 1865, the day Army Gen. Gordon Granger pronounced the slaves in Texas to be free at the end of the Civil War.

For years, black Americans have celebrated that day as the "end of slavery," even though slavery was not exactly a dead letter on that particular date.

The actual date of the end of slavery came Dec. 6, 1865, when the last two states that had legal slavery -- Delaware and Kentucky -- ended the practice. That was when the 13th Amendment was ratified, officially ending slavery across the nation.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: Warner Todd Huston, The Western Journal



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