Do you know what it feels like to be shot at? I do.
Do you know what it feels like to summon up the courage to set foot outside, again, once you’ve been shot at. I do.
And so does my sister’s children. We live in Maywood, Illinois and have the last name of Ankum, which automatically makes us a target whether or not we’ve done anything to anyone.
I was asked not to write this column because things have been quiet for us for some time now and no one, especially us, wants to endure another round of drive-bys. But things are quiet for the wrong reason. And everytime I hear of a George Zimmerman, Michael Dunn, or Curtis Reeves saying that they shot someone in self-defense, it makes my blood boil. George Zimmerman, Michael Dunn, and Curtis Reeves you don’t have a clue about what it’s like to fear for your life.
I work at a very large and respected hospital and because of the severity of my stalking, people who I don’t know come up to me all the time and call me by my first name. They know me by knowing of me. So, when the unthinkable happened in our family, again, I felt compelled to offer all those people an explanation of what was happening. The following w-mail is what I sent out.
“To all my many friends, if you watched the News over the weekend, you may have caught a news broadcast concerning the arrest of three Maywood men in connection with a May 15th shooting. My nephew Larry Ankum, Jr. was one of the three men charged. He is absolutely innocent of the charges. But despite two witnesses (non family members) and four family members who put him in the back yard at the time of the shooting, he was still arrested and indicted.
What neither the Tribune or the News broadcast revealed is that my sister, has five sons all of whom have been the victim of gun violence in Maywood.
Her oldest son, Shannon Ankum was shot in the stomach, because he didn’t want to become part of a gang and sell drugs. After shooting him, he was dumped a few feet from where we go to Church. No one was arrested or indicted for shooting him. Needless, to say, with his shooter(s) walking around free, he was persuaded to join a gang.
A few years ago, Shannon was convicted of 1st degree murder, in a very very similar situation as his younger brother, Larry. Much too similar to be a coincidence.
After Shannon was sentenced to 45 years in prison, the gang started harassing Larry – the young man who was indicted– to join. He refused. It got so bad, that someone had to drive him to school and pick him up. He stayed firm and refused. That is until, Stephen, is brother was shot in the face.
Stephen was out with some friends and was on his way home, when he said a car pulled up alongside him and someone in the car shot him. No arrest or conviction in that case even though everyone knows who did it. When Stephen was well enough to go back to work, he moved.
About a year or two later, Drew, then 18 years old – was backing out the drive way on his way to work one morning and some boys in a green car drove by and shot at him – several times. My sister hearing the noise, ran outside and was nearly shot herself. No arrest or conviction for that driveby.
About three years ago, my sister’s grandchildren had gathered at the house for a sleepover. Some young men in a car drove by and shot up the room where her grandkids were sleeping. Fortunately, she had made them go to bed early for misbehaving. So they were all on the floor when the gun fire erupted. There are still bullet holes in her living room walls today. No arrest or conviction for that driveby.
Fast track to last year. Her son, Sterling the next oldest, gave one of Larry’s friends a ride home. As they sat in the driveway of the friends house, talking, Sterling, father of two and long time healthcare worker, was shot five times. If not for the quick thinking of his brother, Larry – the same young man locked in jail because someone tried to kill him — he would have died that night. There was no arrest or conviction.
Note: The young man who had the loaded gun and drugs in the May 15th incident, whom the Maywood Police let out on bond, is the same young man who is under investigation for shooting Sterling. But so far, no arrest or conviction.
But evidence or no evidence, the Maywood Police is always coming to the door to get Larry.
So friends, please keep us in your prayers and especially this young man who has been put through more than his share.”
With all due respect, none of us asked those four young men, two of them the sons of Maywood Policemen, to go get guns and drugs – to stoke up their courage – and get in a car an attempt yet another drive-by on us.
Thank God, someone defended us, or otherwise we would have ended up like the family of the young man the other three succeded in killing a month later.
A Tiny Kitten With A Big Mouth