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Ashake Heaven BanksLate Wednesday night, candy store owner Ashake Banks lost her 7-year-old daughter, Heaven (pictured), to gunfire on Chicago’s West Side, according to the Chicago Tribune.

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Two weeks ago, Ashake decided to open a candy stand on her block in order to give neighborhood kids a safe option for treats. Instead, two men reportedly appeared on the block and released a hail of bullets at individuals standing near the stand, mowing down standbyers. Soon after, Ashake reportedly found her daughter unconscious inside a hallway. About her daughter’s death, Ashake said, “She looked forward every day to opening up the candy store, and for somebody just to come take her life, it’s not right,” Banks said.

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Watch Heaven’s sad end here:

Somehow, Ashake thought that her block would be spared from the incessant violence in her community, because gang members knew her and her family.

“I opened up the candy store for the kids so they wouldn’t have to be pulled back and forth on the block because there’s been so much shooting,” Banks said. “I figured they [gang members] know us, they wouldn’t come to the neighborhood and start shooting, but they really didn’t even care.”

And that’s just the point: Gang members are loyal to no one. They shoot at the slightest infraction and are purposely oblivious to who is around when they set out on their murderous rounds.

It is such a shame that while Ashake was being a Good Samaritan, she had to lose her beloved child to Chicago’s — and the wider country’s — incessant violence, but while rappers like to say that they “don’t love them ho’s,” gangbangers clearly have no love for even themselves.

One of my in-laws’ sons was murdered two years ago not by an opposing gang but by his own gang. According to family members, after years of gang banging, the 21-year-old decided that he wanted to make a change in his life and get a real job. The young man began attending family events and excitedly expressed that he was on a new path. Unfortunately, once his peers got wind of his “change,” they didn’t take it very well, especially since he lowered his profile within the group and stopped attending many of the gang functions he used to attend. Their reaction?

In a few months, he was riddled with bullets near his home. He died on the scene.

My point? Gangbangers don’t care about well-meaning candy shop owners or young children playing tag in the street. They especially don’t care about former gangbangers trying to make a change, because they are selfish, vengeful, and soulless beings who enjoy destruction.

According to Ashake, that same child who died in her arms begged her to leave their community in search for a better place not too long ago. The Chicago Tribune reports:

Banks said her daughter was frightened by all the violence around her home and had pleaded with her to move out. “She would say, ‘Mom, let’s move.’ “

I know fleeing some of our neighborhoods due to high levels of violence isn’t a solution, but there has to be a limit to what one can take. In Chicago, Heaven makes the 20th killing this year:

Heaven is the 20th person under the age of 17 to be killed by gunfire in Chicago this year, according to a Tribune crime analysis.

Police recently released statistics showing the number of Chicago Public School students shot this past school year — 319 — was the highest in four years. The toll from last weekend’s gun violence in the city included the deaths of two boys, 13 and 14.

I know I should be saying that we have to do whatever it takes to stop the violence in some of our neighborhoods — and indeed we should — but I’m also not above saying that sometimes, you really do need to get out.

I’m pretty clear on what it takes to create a good foundation for our children, so that they can grow into loving, self-respecting, and productive citizens, but no one seems to know what should be done about the kids who have already morphed into predators, leeches, and parasites who seem to enjoy decimating all that’s in their way.

Do you?

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