Yearbook Created For Young Gun Violence Victims
Ms. Johnson does not know exactly where her son’s yearbook is currently located and she does not care to find out, but inside this book, she knows that her son, Kedrick, her son she would never see, is smiling amidst the gallery of portraits.
Several weeks before Kedrick was to graduate from Elmont High School in 2010, he was shot to death outside a party in the Springfield Gardens neighborhood of Queens. He was just 17, and was bound for St. John’s to take his shot at the University.
Since then, graduation season, has served as a reminder of Kedrick’s killing, but this year Ms. Johnson is hoping it might that it might also bring some attention to the primary issue which led to her son’s killing.
She and other parents of children killed by gun violence joined together in an organization called New Yorkers Against Gun Violence to create a yearbook that is meant to draw attention to the toll of gun violence on young people.
The yearbook, with a digital version available at signtheiryearbook.com, is filled with the stories, memories and photographs of young gun violence victims and as well serve as a petition, with more than 2300 person signed, for universal firearm background checks, which their group plans to lobby to Congress this fall..
The issue of gun violence became so political that we sometimes forget that it is also personal said Ms. Johnson. She added that gun control policies forgot about the loved ones, who they have lost and the lives we have to piece back together.
The yearbook features stories of children who were killed in firearm-related episodes between 1999 and 2014 in the United States. For this release it includes only a sheer amount of 11 stories, out of these 31,104 children.
Among the statistical figures come 1,111 victims from New York. And thus with the passage of the SAFE Act, signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in 2013, New York had some of the toughest gun control laws in the country – an expanded ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, broader background checks, and stiffer penalties for people gun-related or linked crimes.
But without comprehensive federal legislation, firearms are still regularly transported into New York from states with lighter standards. Before the week of the massacre in Orlando, where 49 people were killed at a nightclub, with congressional Democrats redoubling their efforts to enact more stringent gun control laws, still several mass shootings have occurred.
Leah Gunn Barrett, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence said that their group would like a response coming from the federal level, they same way that they had the response from New York.
She hopes that every story in their yearbook, by flipping through the page of the profiles of the young people killed and as well all the narratives of their lost potentials will move the Congress to actually do something.
The pages of the yearbook include profiles of Alphonza C. Bryant III, a 17-year-old honor student from the Bronx, who was killed months before of his graduation in 2013 by some gang members who have mistaken him for someone else;
Nicholas Naumkin, a 12-year-old from Saratoga Springs, and is known for giving his allowance to charity, was accidentally killed by a friend playing with the friend’s father’s gun in 2010;
and Michael Graham, a 13-year-old from Brewster, who used his father’s gun to commit suicide in 2013.
This advocacy of pushing for stricter gun control laws has served as a form of therapy for Natasha Christopher. Her son Akeal, who aspire to be a train engineer, was shot in the head in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in June 2012, while he was walking to his friend’s house. He died on his 15th birthday.
Ms. Christopher is now a full-time volunteer for gun-control organizations and shares her painful sorrows as many as a dozen times a week.
While everyone else is preparing for both prom and graduation, and here she is, putting together a candlelight vigil for her boy,
“This is my life now. I’ve turned my pain into action,” Ms. Christopher added.
Now she is just looking forward to Rashawn’s, her younger son’s graduation in a few years, she said. She prays nothing similar to that of Akeal’s happen to him (Rashawn) before that day.