Virginia pastor E.W. Jackson has launched a GoFundMe page to pay for the funerals of children killed in urban shootings — and to offer bounties for the capture of their killers.
Mr. Jackson, who leads the Chesapeake-based Exodus Faith Ministries and was the 2013 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, established the fund through a nonprofit “to help not only alleviate the cost of funeral expenses, but to bring perpetrators to justice through rewards for information leading to their apprehension,” as well as to forge better relationships between police and urban communities.
“Hundreds of children are being killed in the inner cities of our country and no one is paying any attention to it,” Mr. Jackson said. “These are not gangbangers, people out doing things that cause encounters with police or kids being killed by cops. They’re innocent kids, being killed by the lawless, who are terrorizing our communities and don’t care who dies in the process.”
Mr. Jackson’s “Murdered Children’s Fund” is aimed at easing the financial burdens of grieving families, providing rewards for the arrests of shooters, paying for public service announcements about gang violence, funding collaborations with local police departments, advocating for life in prison and the death penalty for child killers and establishing an “Innocents Memorial” in the nation’s capital.
He has already begun working on the expenses of funerals in Chicago, where several children have been killed this year.
A Harvard-trained attorney, conservative media host and former Marine, Mr. Jackson insisted that indifference toward the pain of inner-city communities over gun violence against children is not a partisan issue.
“When something like this happens, people say they’ll be there to support you. But, they’re not. As Christians, we are called to be. We must be. We will be. This is something we can do,” he said.
Mr. Jackson’s announcement comes amidst mounting reports of youth shootings nationally and in Virginia, where Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, signed a gun violence prevention bill in July.
The Associated Press reported Monday that gun violence “is killing an increasing number of American children, from toddlers caught in crossfires to teenagers gunned down in turf wars, drug squabbles or for posting the wrong thing on social media.”
According to the AP, rising rates of gun violence across the country stem in part from the idleness of young people caused by COVID-19 restrictions.
The online Gun Violence Archive, which tallies shootings from over 7,500 agencies, reported 991 gun-related deaths among people 17 or younger in 2019. That number rose to 1,375 deaths in 2020 and is on pace to get worse this year, with 1,179 killings reported as of Monday.
An FBI report last month confirmed that homicides among Americans younger than 19 also increased by 21% in 2020 as the pandemic exploded.