The latest child shot in Cleveland is 2-year-old Alaya Brown.
She is not to be confused with Ayla Brown, the former senator’s daughter who is scheduled to sing the National Anthem at the Republican National Convention there on Thursday.
Alaya is in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Rainbow University Hospitals’ Babies and Children’s Hospital. She is wearing an extra-extra-small hospital gown decorated with cuddly baby tigers. Her tiny head is wrapped in a big white bandage. Her eyes are swollen shut. But she is reported to be moving her legs and a hospital spokeswoman says her condition has been upgraded to stable.
With that news comes the hope that Alaya will win a fight for life that began just before 7 p.m. Friday, when a stray bullet pierced her wrist and struck her in the head while she was in her mother’s arms. Alaya will be continuing her fight through the Republican National Convention, which began Monday with a first night’s theme of “Make America Safe.”
The RNC’s first-night program made much of the violence in Benghazi but nothing of the violence in Cleveland, which witnessed a terrible time last fall, when four of the city’s children were shot in less than a month. Three of them died; a 5-month-old girl on the way to the store with his mother and grandmother, a 3-year-old boy riding in a car with his family, and a 5-year-old playing football.
“Enough is enough,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said at a press conference last October. “When are we going to stop counting babies being killed out here on the streets for nothing?”
There followed a lull in kiddie shootings in Cleveland that ended in May with the shooting of a 9-year-old, followed by an 11-year-old. An 8-year-old was shot in June.
Alaya was shot on Friday evening, but when the question of Ohio’s lax “open carry” gun laws came up during Chief Williams’s appearance on Face the Nation on Sunday, it was only in relation to the upcoming RNC.
“There’s always a challenge when firearms and the public kind of mesh together,” Williams said. “But we’ve had open-carry scenarios in the city before, and we’ve handled them—we plan to handle them the same way as we always have.”
Williams said nothing of the gun madness that sometime makes it seem like open season on children in Cleveland and cities across America. He was understandably focused on preparing for the RNC, but he could have at least made mention of the 2-year-old in the PICU.
What he did say was, “But in this state, everyone has the right to open carry and we want to make sure people do that safely.”
Children who were shot in other cities so far this month include a 6-year-old in Pittsburgh and a 4-year-old in Los Angeles. Two kids, aged 5 and 8, were shot in Chicago while lighting sparklers on the Fourth of July.
And then there is the 2-year-old in Cleveland. Cops there named a suspect in the shooting even as they prepared to protect the convention against protesters and terrorists and anarchists. He is 19-year-old JeJuan “JuJu B” Burns.
The tiny victim will fight on in the PICU a 20-minute drive away while the RNC proceeds through its successive daily themes, from Make America Safe Again to Make America Work Again to Make America First Again.
The convention will end with a Make America One Again session, when the national anthem will be sung by Ayla Brown, the former senator’s daughter, who should not be confused with Alaya Brown.