Hundreds of mourners gathered July 26 in Forest Park to pay respects to Shamiya Adams, 11, who died July 18, from injuries suffered from a stray gunshot while attending a friend’s sleepover in East Garfield Park.
Bright green was her favorite color, so her family dispensed with tradition and made sure that the ceremonies were bathed in it. From her casket to the pallbearers’ t-shirts, to her mother’s jeans, to the balloons that were released at her gravesite — bright green flowed throughout.
From Living Word Christian Center, her body was taken to the cemetery in Forest Park on a white horse-drawn carriage. And as her small coffin made its final descent, the green balloons, along with a group of pure white doves, were put to flight. The regalia was fitting for the young girl her grandmother nicknamed “Queen,” and who was described as a model student and sibling by those who knew her best.
“It’s so meaningful that we have boys and girls who understand the ethic of service,” Gov. Pat Quinn said at the service.
Adams was an active volunteer at Melody Elementary School, where she attended. A statement on behalf of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who wasn’t in attendance, praised her legacy as one symbolizing “strength, hard work and humility.”
Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) said that “there will be a void this upcoming school year.”
Adams was a voluntary babysitter at her school, where she helped tend to the kindergartners. She had most recently been involved with the Penny Drive, a project designed to raise funds to purchase new books for the school’s library. Adams was an active member of First Baptist Congregation’s youth ministry.
But the remembrances may have been only bitter consolation for those closest to her. Many were still stunned and bewildered by what Rev. Jesse Jackson described as “death without rhyme or reason.” Jackson, who had been in communication with the family prior to the funeral, echoed the shock expressed by Adams’s mother, Shaneetha Goodloe, upon girl’s death.
“Shamiya’s mother said to me, ‘When other people’s children are shot, I weep for them. I didn’t know mine would be next,'” he said.
“Shaneetha, you’ve been crying since July 19. God wants you to stop crying,” said Adams’s cousin, Katina Smith, in a heartfelt plea.
Just two days before her funeral, Chicago police arrested 18-year-old Tevin Lee for Shamiya Adams’s murder. Still, frustration and anger was potent at Saturday’s funeral. The collective outrage from the roughly 1,000 mourners was restrained but seething underneath the tears and stoned faces of people like Paul Goodloe, Adams’s grandfather. Distraught, Goodloe left the sanctuary during the eulogy.
“It’s sad the way the city of Chicago is allowing these creeps to go on and shoot at will and take innocent lives,” Goodloe said. “They’re not discriminating about who they’re shooting. Somebody needs to stand up and do something.”
Other mourners, like Aaron McClinton, one of Adams’s pallbearers and a best friend to both of her parents, offered their own solutions. McClinton said he’d recommend tougher sentencing laws for those who shoot innocent children, and a more vigorous police presence in neighborhoods affected most by gun violence.
“I’d put a cop on every corner every day,” he said. “They got enough of them. It’s just too many kids dying in Chicago. Just yesterday, a boy got killed on California and Harrison, right by where I live. I say upgrade the sentencing for these crimes.”
Rev. Jackson admonished those in the community who witness crime but don’t speak up about it, saying that they’re “just as guilty as those who pull the trigger.” He said that Seventy-five percent of murders aren’t solved, he said, because people don’t tell who committed them.
“Our community must not be a sanctuary to hide killers. Most of these murders are not solved because we’ve been providing sanctuary,” Jackson said, also calling on the community to become more actively involved in ridding the streets of the lethal weapons.
Rev. Oscar Crear of NewTiberiaBaptistChurch delivered the eulogy and tried to calm frustrations with calls for understanding. “Children, God hears you crying,” he said. “It’s alright to be frustrated…but we have to understand that [law enforcement and elected officials] are human just like us. I want to believe that they’re doing the best they can.”
Michael Romain is founder and editor of TheVillageFreePress.org