Examining the Racial Dynamics Behind the Ralph Yarl Shooting

Examining the Racial Dynamics Behind the Ralph Yarl Shooting


Examining the Racial Dynamics Behind the Ralph Yarl Shooting

Kansas City police have accused a White man of fatally shooting an 16-year-old Black teen after they mistakenly rang their doorbell, charging him with two felonies and three misdemeanors.

This incident led to protests throughout the city and brought back painful memories of Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery being murdered by assailants who claimed self-defense as justifications for their attacks.

What We Know So Far

Last Thursday's shooting of a 16-year-old black teen in Kansas City has generated nationwide outrage and indignation from family members, who view it as an act of racism and have retained two of America's premier civil rights attorneys - Ben Crump and Lee Merritt - for legal representation.

Yarl, a junior at Northland High School, was on his way to collect his twin brothers from a friend when he mistakenly went to an address on 115th Terrace that was incorrect. A white homeowner then shot both times at him.

After being shot, the teenager managed to run to nearby houses for assistance and was later discharged from hospital, according to Aunt Faith Spoonmore who says her nephew is doing well physically but still has some emotional scarring ahead.

Within hours of his shooting, a GoFundMe page was set up in his honor and has raised more than $2 Million so far.

Yarl was recently honored by Yale University with an undergraduate admissions interview, while his bass clarinet performance earned Missouri All-State Band honorable mention. Additionally, he plays multiple instruments with Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of Kansas City as well as participating in his school's technology student association and science olympiad team.

Family reports state he's an avid reader and musician; recently invited to perform with the school jazz band in Europe; with plans to study chemical engineering at Texas A&M according to his aunt on his GoFundMe page,

Prosecutors filed charges on Monday against Andrew Lester, who police allege opened fire upon Yarl when she accidentally rang Lester's doorbell Thursday night. Lester is being charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action according to the Clay County Prosecutor's Office.

However, prosecutors did not explain how race played into this shooting or release details regarding what transpired between Yarl and her victim's homeowner. At a press conference held Monday by Clay County prosecutor Zach Thompson, there was no indication that Lester and Yarl spoke prior to Thursday night encounter.

Lester’s Account

Lester reported to police that while sleeping Thursday night in his home he heard his doorbell. Upon hearing it, he woke up and went to the front door where he saw an individual 6 feet tall pulling against his house's exterior walls and fired two shots from his revolver, court records show.

Lester told Kansas City police during an initial interview that he was "terrified to death" of Yarl because he is black teen he believed might attempt to gain entry to his home, according to court documents obtained by CNN. Lester owned firearms and believed the young person wanted entry.

Prosecutors say that when Yarl entered his home, the homeowner opened the door, looked him in the eye, and fired two shots in his head, according to court records. Yarl fell to the floor after taking two hits and attempted to rise again; as such a second round was fired as well, court records state. Yarl was injured and hospitalized according to Kansas City Star reports.

Faith Spoonmore, Yarl's aunt, established a GoFundMe page to raise more than $1 Million in order to cover his medical costs. Faith noted that her nephew was an ambitious high school junior passionate about music who led a section in marching band.

Though his injuries were extensive, she reported in her fundraising post that the teen is doing well physically; however, emotional and psychological healing will take time.

Spoonmore wrote in her fundraising post about an individual known as "He is a sweet young man who was doing his best to be good person and follow society's rules," while also noting his high school education record, membership in marching band activities and active service in their school's marching band.

She noted that he was part of both his school's Technology Student Association and Science Olympiad team, earning honorable mention in a Missouri All-State band for his bass clarinet playing skills, she said.

The story of this teen has led to protests and intervention from nationally recognized civil rights attorneys who have strongly condemned police for failing to arrest and charge the suspect immediately. Furthermore, this shooting has brought into focus questions of race dynamics in America as well as potential reasons behind gun violence, prompting many individuals to demand reform of gun laws in our nation.

Crump’s Account

The Ralph Yarl Shooting has brought to light the racial dynamics underlying violence against Black Americans, as well as the need for additional laws to protect citizens. Additionally, its timing comes at a time of numerous mass shootings across the country and increasing calls for tighter gun regulations.

On Thursday evening in Kansas City, Missouri, a 16-year-old was shot after mistakenly ringing the doorbell on 115th Street instead of Terrace where his twin brothers lived. Family members described the event as being "horrific", leaving serious injuries for their loved one.

Faith Spoonmore posted to a GoFundMe page about her nephew who she described as an active high school student beloved by his peers for his music and engineering interests. He plays bass clarinet in the jazz band at school, competes on science Olympiad team, and plans on attending Texas A&M University to major in chemical engineering, according to Faith.

Spoonmore expressed her outrage over the shooting with her family in an interview with NBC affiliate KVTV on Sunday and called for "immediate action to stop violence against our children."

Stacey Graves of Stacy County Police says his department is currently reviewing forensic information and witness accounts to assess if the shooting was motivated by racism. They're also exploring if Missouri's "Stand Your Ground" law allows someone to use deadly force in self-defense without first going before a judge for permission.

Spoonmore stated in her interview that she hopes the investigation will move quickly so a suspect can be charged and justice served. Additionally, she plans on continuing her activism for Ralph Yarl's case by advocating for "the right to be safe" and pushing states to repeal "Stand Your Ground" laws.

Andrew Lester was booked into custody after shooting multiple shots at Yarl on April 13 but released shortly thereafter due to not being considered a flight risk by authorities.

Lester, who owned his home in Kansas City's Northland neighborhood, reported to investigators he was scared to death of the size and lack of arm strength of his teenage visitor, and felt someone may have tried to break into it, prompting him to fire several rounds through the front door.

The Media’s Account

Media coverage has played an essential role in chronicling Yarl's shooting and subsequent events surrounding her shooting, including reporting the event itself, providing details about its cause, and covering protests which erupted after his shooter was freed without charges being filed against them.

The shooting has sparked outrage within the community and nationwide. This incident follows on the heels of high-profile killings of Black individuals by police or others and calls for changes in gun laws - something many say could reduce violence against Black Americans.

Faith Spoonmore, Yarl's aunt, created a GoFundMe page following the shooting to raise funds for his medical and therapy expenses. According to Faith's page, Yarl is a junior in high school known for his passions in music and engineering - bass clarinet in jazz band, science Olympiad team participant and hoping to attend Texas A&M University to study chemical engineering.

On Sunday afternoon in Kansas City, hundreds of protesters came out in support of the family and demanded that the shooter be prosecuted. These demonstrations were organized by the Northland Coalition for Justice - an advocacy group working for equal rights and justice in Kansas City's Northland neighborhood.

A spokesperson from the nonprofit organization confirmed that a GoFundMe fundraiser had been set up in support of Ralph Yarl's medical costs and therapy sessions, raising over $1.8 Million as of Monday afternoon.

Attorneys representing Yarl's family issued a statement calling on Clay County prosecutors and law enforcement officials to identify, arrest, and prosecute "to the full extent of the law" the individual who shot Yarl "to ensure his full accountability". They further asked that this individual remain in jail without bail until their case is concluded.

Prosecutors allege Lester, an 84-year-old homeowner, answered the door and shot Yarl twice in the head before she collapsed to the ground, according to a probable cause statement from a prosecutor.

On Sunday afternoon, his father told local news outlets that the teenager was released from hospital and is recovering at home, according to local media reports. While doctors expect him to make a full recovery, Faith Spoonmore noted on GoFundMe page that the shooting has left her nephew traumatized by it; according to Spoonmore he is physically doing well but faces "an emotional journey ahead," noting he loves music and being an athlete - two passions she says make up his personality!

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