TheVillageCelebration http://www.thevillagecelebration.com Tue, 11 Jul 2017 18:35:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 Concern Grows in Search for Missing Arkansas Man http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/concern-grows-search-missing-arkansas-man/ Tue, 11 Jul 2017 18:33:37 +0000 http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/?p=18144 Authorities in Ouachita County are searching for a 38-year-old man from Bearden who has been missing for about 10 days. Family and friends are becoming increasingly concerned about D’Wayne Lambert. “He’s left before and has been gone, but the thing that has everybody concerned is that D’Wayne is a Facebook fanatic. He will check his […]

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Authorities in Ouachita County are searching for a 38-year-old man from Bearden who has been missing for about 10 days. Family and friends are becoming increasingly concerned about D’Wayne Lambert.

“He’s left before and has been gone, but the thing that has everybody concerned is that D’Wayne is a Facebook fanatic. He will check his Facebook page even if he doesn’t make a status. And if he had checked by now he would see that everyone is looking for him,” says Lambert’s mother, Zina Lambert. “Even if he had to borrow someone’s phone, he would check Facebook.”

The last person to see Lambert was his aunt, Susie. According to family, Lambert seemed worried and paranoid. “He was telling her people were after him, and he was trying to get away from people,” says Lambert’s mother. “If she hadn’t seen him like that, I wouldn’t think that much of it.”

Bearden, Arkansas is a close-knit town of less than a thousand residents. Word of Lambert’s disappearance spread quickly by word-of-mouth and social media. A flyer with his photograph and details flooded Facebook newsfeeds.

Longtime friend, 43-year-old, Andre Jackson, organized a search after speaking with Lambert’s family. “We started around 9 o’clock this morning and stopped by Harry Clemons, Jr.’s. He got on his four-wheeler,” Jackson says. “We went out to the gravel pit. Then, we went to the other side and checked all the houses and a couple of old trailers, and we went in those and didn’t see anything. And, we checked the woods in that area, too, and didn’t see anything.”

With each passing day, Jackson and Lambert’s family are becoming more concerned. Jackson explains, “After I found out about it, at first, I thought he was just somewhere hanging out. But, when I didn’t hear from him for a while, I figured something was wrong.”

Jackson and a small group of volunteers searched for a few hours. As they finished, the sheriff’s department started scouring the woods. Their search will continue tomorrow and will most likely include dogs.

Lambert’s mother hopes her son went fishing and will be found hanging around the land where the pond is located. She points to a recent job loss as a cause for his depression and possible renewed use of crystal methamphetamine.

But, whatever the reasons are for his disappearance, Lambert’s mom wants him to know, “We love you. We want you to call us…come home. No matter what it is. We want you safe and at home. Right now, we don’t care about the drugs…we know God can fix it and make it better.”

If you have any information about D’Wayne Lambert’s whereabouts, you are asked to call: 870-687-1417 or 870-885-0509 or please call the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Department.

 

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Missouri NAACP Issues Travel Advisory http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/missouri-naacp-issues-travel-advisory/ Sat, 08 Jul 2017 04:35:03 +0000 http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/?p=18141 At the peak of the summer travel season, the Missouri State NAACP is warning African Americans to exercise caution when visiting the Show-Me State. “We hope individuals in the state or visiting or traveling through will be aware of what they’re entering into. In Missouri people of color are stopped 75 percent more often than […]

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At the peak of the summer travel season, the Missouri State NAACP is warning African Americans to exercise caution when visiting the Show-Me State.

“We hope individuals in the state or visiting or traveling through will be aware of what they’re entering into. In Missouri people of color are stopped 75 percent more often than other motorists, and that is based on 16 years of data. It is incredible, and the only other thing is it’s getting worse each year,” says the state’s NAACP President, Rod Chapel.

Chapel cited the data released by the state’s attorney general and anecdotal evidence as compelling reasons for the unusual decision to warn motorists, saying they are “not safe on the roads.” Chapel, who is a lawyer, points to examples of African American motorists being harassed and murdered.

The most recent example involves a young Black man who took a wrong turn on Interstate 55 while driving from his home in Nashville to Memphis. 28-year-old Tory Sanders ended up in the Mississippi County jail in the Missouri Bootheel. Days later, authorities say Sanders “became combative” and fought six officers before he was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Chapel says, “Tory ran out of gas outside of Charleston, Missouri. He called his mother who suggested he contact the police for help. Tory was never arrested but ended up in a jail cell where he died. How did that happen? The individual who took the last charge who literally ran into the cell where he was…had no business handling inmates or anyone else.”

That individual was the sheriff in Mississippi County, Cory Hutcheson, whose allegations of criminal wrongdoing already cast doubt on his ability to lead a law enforcement agency. Since then the state Attorney General has removed Hutcherson’s and is promising an investigation into Sanders’ death.

But, during those days in May while Sanders remained in the custody of Hutcheson and his deputies, there were numerous phone calls between Sanders and his mother. Chapel says Sanders’ mother told investigators her son said, ‘They’re trying to kill me in here.’

An autopsy revealed there were no bruises on Sanders’ body, but there were marks from tasers. And, at one point, the sheriff’s department called in a mental health expert to evaluate Sanders, who suffered from depression. The expert reportedly determined that Sanders was fine and should be released. But, Sanders was not released. His family met with authorities and returned to Tennessee to bury their loved one while the cause of death is still undetermined.

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens is also under fire for contributing to a racially biased climate by signing legislation making it more difficult to sue for workplace discrimination. Chappell and a trio of ecumenical clergy met with the Republican governor in hopes of dissuading him by posing an argument based, in part, on one of the tenets shared by most religions. “They said, ‘We have an obligation to look out for the least of these…who are historically disadvantaged and now have lost civil rights protections long fought for,’” recalls Chapel.

Despite the meeting and a rally at the Capitol, Greitens signed the legislation the Friday before the Fourth of July and did so in private. Senate Bill 43 allows lawsuits against employers but not the individuals accused of workplace discrimination, places a cap on damage awards, and applies to discrimination lawsuit involving housing and public accommodations.

Chapel says, “This flies in the face of what we believe to be justice and equality, not only in Missouri, but in the United States.”

The ACLU says Senate Bill 43 will “usher in a new era of ‘acceptable’ racism, sexism and xenophobia in Missouri. This bill makes workplaces potentially more hostile for Missouri’s women, people of color and religious minorities.”

 

Missouri’s Record on Race   

Missouri’s history is a recitation of referendums on race. It was Missouri’s request in 1819 to enter the United States as a slave state that triggered the Missouri Compromise. To maintain the balance of power between the slave and free states, Congress admitted Maine as a free state and Missouri as a slave state. Legislators also passed an amendment establishing a boundary between free and slave regions that were part of the Louisiana Purchase. The effort staved off The Civil War, but tensions continued to escalate between pro-slavery and anti-slavery states.

Decades later in 1857, the Dred Scott case thrust Missouri back into the spotlight. Dred Scott argued that he was a free man because his slave owner had taken him into Illinois, a free state, and Wisconsin which was a free territory. Most of the Supreme Court Justices were from slave states, and the Court ruled that Scott was not a citizen and the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional. The decision outraged Northerners and further inflamed tensions, setting the stage for the Civil War.

Chapel remembers the stories his family passed down through generations, chronicling their participation in the ongoing struggle for civil rights and social justice. “My family’s been involved with the NAACP since well before Brown v. The Board of Education. They picked cotton on a neighbor’s land to send money to fund the litigation that became Brown v. the Board of Education,” he says. “And, they mailed the money from a different town to avoid attracting attention from the KKK which would have had significant and swift reprisal.”

Ironically, Chapel is leading the NAACP in Missouri at a time when race relations in America are strained and the country is deeply divided along racial lines. As a frontline advocate in a state with Missouri’s history and the nation’s current climate, Chapel admits there are some major challenges.

Marshalling the spirit of advocacy learned from his family’s legacy, he insists, “Informing the public about the attacks is critical. And for people who are concerned, Americans and Missourians who may or may not be people of color but believe in the Golden Rule as a spiritual guidepost or moral underpinning or at least have a fundamental understanding of Constitutional rights, must come together whether it’s the NAACP or a faith-based organization or another civic organization to insist that protections are made or to seek redress when violations occur.”

 

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The “Adultification” of Black Girls http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/adultification-black-girls/ Fri, 07 Jul 2017 12:28:10 +0000 http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/?p=18113 Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality released a new study revealing a significant bias against Black girls starting as early as age five. Those surveyed in the study viewed Black girls as not as innocent as White. They did not think Black girls needed as much protecting or nurturing. For a look at the […]

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Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality released a new study revealing a significant bias against Black girls starting as early as age five. Those surveyed in the study viewed Black girls as not as innocent as White. They did not think Black girls needed as much protecting or nurturing. For a look at the damage caused by such perceptions, TheVillageCelebration turned to LaKeisha Gray-Sewell, the founder of “Girls Like Me” a Chicago-based organization dedicated to helping urban girls.

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Does a Frederick Douglass Speech From 1852 Ring True in 2017? http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/keep-frederick-douglass-mind-independence-day/ Tue, 04 Jul 2017 17:42:30 +0000 http://thevillagecelebration.com/?p=17325 Abolitionist Frederick Douglass took the podium in Rochester, New York in 1852 to ask, “What to the Slave is The Fourth of July?” TheVillageCelebration invited stage and screen actor, Antonio Vargas, to read the famous speech. As you listen, what are your thoughts?

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Abolitionist Frederick Douglass took the podium in Rochester, New York in 1852 to ask, “What to the Slave is The Fourth of July?” TheVillageCelebration invited stage and screen actor, Antonio Vargas, to read the famous speech. As you listen, what are your thoughts?

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Nightclub Shooting Injures 28 While Filmmaker Questions ‘What’s Left Behind’ http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/nightclub-shooting-injures-17-filmmaker-questions-whats-left-behind/ Sat, 01 Jul 2017 18:16:28 +0000 http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/?p=18118 Police in Little Rock spent the early morning hours investigating a shooting that left 28 people injured at a downtown nightclub. As the details emerged, eyewitnesses described the shots fired during a rap concert followed by the rush to escape. Some of the wounded were trampled, and broken windows in the building explained how others […]

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Police in Little Rock spent the early morning hours investigating a shooting that left 28 people injured at a downtown nightclub. As the details emerged, eyewitnesses described the shots fired during a rap concert followed by the rush to escape. Some of the wounded were trampled, and broken windows in the building explained how others scrambled to safety.

In Chicago where violence is known to mark the Fourth of July weekend, law enforcement and residents braced for the tragic tradition.  Writing a new narrative is now the work, not only of police who have increased the number of officers on the street this weekend, but also of the deeply concerned.

“I was a flight attendant for United for about 10 years. I used to say, ‘I was born here and will probably die here’, but I don’t quite feel that way anymore. The violence is bad and makes it hard to be here. It’s hard on the spirit and the mind for most of us who are here,” says Lisa Butler, who is producing a documentary on the headline grabbing violence in Chicago that even President Trump leveraged to add heft to his campaign’s courtship of the right-wing Republican base.

Butler continues, “I think a lot of us have PTSD just living vicariously, and listening to it day in and day out because you never get a break. It never ends.”

The recognition that her emotions were frayed simply from hearing about the violence raised a question for Butler, who was then working as a research assistant on a project focused on the girls and women impacted by the loss of loved ones to gun violence. In addition to survey questions, the research included testing blood samples to determine if the immune systems of family members had been impaired by the painful stress of their loss. All of the subjects in the survey showed some signs of a weakened immune system.

“Coming at it from a privileged space, I asked, ‘Did you get some therapy’”, Butler recalls asking. “The women described not being able to get out of bed or parent surviving children. It really made me sad. And, it made me wonder, ‘Why can I watch Dateline and see folks talking about their loved ones and celebrate them, and have people look at them and feel their loss, and why is that not happening for these people in Chicago?’”

She started working to tell their stories. For the documentary, What’s Left Behind, Butler talked to 15 families who lost loved ones to gun violence, and she says that’s “just a drop in the bucket.” Last year Chicago reported 780 murders; 754 of those were gun-related.

Calling on her training in clinical therapy, Butler analyzes the motivation which triggers much of the violence. “If you dismantled structural racism and institutional discrimination, it would stop tomorrow. People don’t get involved in drugs because they were born to do that…no, they do that because they have to live,” she emphasizes.

Regentrification and poor schools are factors in the equation that fuel feelings of hopelessness in Chicago, she says. And, many times the victims of gun violence are simply “in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are not dealing drugs.”

Hundreds of miles away in Little Rock, survivors from the nightclub shooting shared a similar sentiment, one heard in Black communities in almost every region of the country of being caught in the wrong place. Butler’s documentary explores the emotional damage and preserves the memories of victims, but the question that still lingers is: what will take to stop the violence and who will do the work?

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Drowning in Fear and Discrimination: Why Many Blacks Don’t Swim http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/drowning-discrimination-troubling-reasons-many-blacks-dont-swim/ Sat, 01 Jul 2017 01:50:05 +0000 http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/?p=18107 By Kimathi T. Lewis Black children are drowning at a higher rate than whites in America, and a professor at the University of Memphis helped conduct a survey in at-risk communities to find out why. As Dr. Carol Irvin posed her questions to the receptionist at a YMCA in Philadelphia, the woman seemed mildly interested. […]

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By Kimathi T. Lewis

Black children are drowning at a higher rate than whites in America, and a professor at the University of Memphis helped conduct a survey in at-risk communities to find out why.

As Dr. Carol Irvin posed her questions to the receptionist at a YMCA in Philadelphia, the woman seemed mildly interested.

“’I’m not going to get my children into swimming,’” said the receptionist, a black woman with three children.

Puzzled, the professor wanted to know why.

“Because there is no swimming pool nearby.”

Irwin looked to the right towards the door that led to the YMCA’s swimming pool but said nothing. It was 2008, the first time Irwin would encounter such an attitude, but it wouldn’t be the last.

The University conducted the survey again in 2010 the same year the family members of six teenagers watched helplessly as their children drowned in the Red River outside Shreveport, Lousiana.

The teens had attempted to rescue their cousin and friend, 15-year-old DeKendrix Warner, who had slipped off a ledge, according to news reports. They rushed into the 25-foot deep water to help him, but none of them could swim. Soon they were all thrashing around and crying for help. A man nearby heard their screams, jumped into the water and grabbed the nearest teen, Warner. The bodies of the others were found hours later at the bottom of the river.

Their deaths made national news, highlighting a disturbing disparity: Black children were far less likely to know how to swim than whites.

According to the national study commissioned by USA Swimming and conducted by the University of Memphis, approximately 69 percent of African American youth and 58 percent Hispanic/Latino children reported a “no or low” swimming ability compared to 42 percent of their white peers.

From 2005 to 2014, an average of 3,536 people drowned annually in the United States, the Center for Disease Control reported last year. And about one in five of those who drowned were children 14 years old and younger.

 

Most of those children were African Americans, Irwin said. Black children drown at three times the rate of white children, she said. The University’s researchers were attempting to learn why.

 

The study, which consisted of surveys handed out through the YMCA in various cities, provided a variety of answers including: low income; lack of parental encouragement; lack of access, and how the water and chemicals affect black people’s hair, skin and eyes. Some also thought it was just something white people do. But Irwin said the primary factor was fear.

 

“We definitely saw it in three generations a legacy of fear,” Irwin said.

 

A Legacy of Fear

Joy Sanders felt around with her feet until she touched the plastic object that looked like a hockey puck at the bottom of the pool. Swimming was a requirement at her high school in Illinois, but Sanders was too scared to learn. So, she cheated.

Her eyes closed, Sanders held her breath as she went under the water to retrieve the puck that her teacher had thrown into the water. Then she scrambled out of the pool. Anything above her shoulder made her nervous.

By her senior year, her teacher felt sorry for her and let her pass. It would be decades later before Sanders attempted to learn how to swim again.

She’s still not sure why she was so afraid.

“I don’t know. Just the thought of this huge body of water outside of a tub is overwhelming,” Sanders, 45, said.

Irwin said the study showed that some were so afraid they didn’t like splashing water on their faces.

“The data showed their parents told them not to go near water, then they told their children not to go near water,” she said. “It was beaten into their heads to stay away from water if you don’t want to drown.”

LaKesha Gage-Woodard said she grew up across the street from a swimming pool in Chicago, but never learned how to swim. Now she wants to learn how to swim like a fish.

“My brother couldn’t swim, I couldn’t swim. My parents couldn’t swim and I don’t believe my grandparents could swim,” Gage-Woodard, 44, said.

Though she had swimming classes in high school, she said she could never get comfortable in the water. But it was on her Bucket list to learn and in 2016, Woodard began taking classes.

“I just feel like it’s important, that everyone should learn how to swim,” Gage-Woodard said.

Irwin said she is not sure what’s causing the fear.

“There is very little written down about this subject. Some link it to slavery, that owners didn’t want to teach slaves to swim because they didn’t want them to escape.”

But some believe it goes back even further when Africans were being taken through the Middle Passage. They believe it’s an ancestral legacy that led black parents to live under terror a terror they in turn taught their children.

Micael Shaleak, 55, said the pain of slavery is still very present and, therefore, so is the fear.

“It’s scary, cause in the water we lost,” Shaleak said. “We jumped over, some of us were pushed in and became food for the sharks. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been on a cruise.”

The stories are told of how slaves, in one case as many as 54, were chained together and thrown overboard because of a disease outbreak. Another report said 78 others were killed in the same way over two days.

“Fear is a powerful thing. It will shut you down,” Shaleak said. “Fear got us so locked down we can’t even get into the water.”

 

Lack of Access – A Deadly Legacy of Swimming Pool Discrimination

Still, Jeff Wiltse, author of Contested Waters, believes that the discrimination against black Americans that governed the 20th Century is the reason why they are less likely to know how to swim than whites.

In his article, “The Black-White Swimming Disparity in America: A Deadly Legacy of Swimming Pool Discrimination,” Wiltse said the discrimination took several forms.

Public officials and white swimmers would deny black Americans access to pools earmarked for whites while the cities provided few pools that were often small and dilapidated for blacks, Wiltse said.

After desegregation, the cities also closed many public pools and the YMCA also restricted access to their pools.

Sanders doesn’t discount the fear factor, but she agreed with Wiltse, especially since she saw a documentary that backed up his argument about black people being banned from pools.

“We couldn’t use the same bathroom or drink from the same faucet so of course they wouldn’t allow us in the pools,” Sanders said. “They thought they would catch something from us.”

Wiltse, an associate professor at the University of Montana, said because of this lack of access, swimming never became part of black Americans’ recreation and sports culture.

Still, Irwin said she can see some changes. In the third study conducted this year, she said there was a five percent improvement in learning how to swim for all groups.

“You can save your child’s life by putting them in swimming,” she said.

 

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The Cardboard Piano That Gave a Beloved Musician Her Start http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/cardboard-piano-gave-beloved-musician-start-2/ Fri, 30 Jun 2017 22:01:24 +0000 http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/?p=18126 Baby boomers often peg their coming of age to the Civil Rights Movement and the Motown sound. Alberta Momon was finishing college with a degree in music and a soul for gospel at that time. She helped start a choir filled by singers from a district of churches, and for 42 years, the Greater Bradley […]

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Baby boomers often peg their coming of age to the Civil Rights Movement and the Motown sound. Alberta Momon was finishing college with a degree in music and a soul for gospel at that time. She helped start a choir filled by singers from a district of churches, and for 42 years, the Greater Bradley District Choir toured and ministered. Recently, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center recognized Momon for her musical contributions. She tells her story to TheVillageCelebration’s Vickie Newton.

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‘For His Glory’ Can Change A Story http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/glory-can-change-story/ Fri, 30 Jun 2017 21:00:28 +0000 http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/?p=18097 Imagine standing on the stage in front of Simon Cowell, the famously irascible judge of shows like American Idol and America’s Got Talent. The youth of the Gloryland Pastors Choir did, and their voices soared. Pastor Cedric Hayes, founder and director of the talented group of pint-sized and teenage singers, believes his mission involves more […]

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Imagine standing on the stage in front of Simon Cowell, the famously irascible judge of shows like American Idol and America’s Got Talent. The youth of the Gloryland Pastors Choir did, and their voices soared.

Pastor Cedric Hayes, founder and director of the talented group of pint-sized and teenage singers, believes his mission involves more than music. Recently recognized by the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center for his leadership, Hayes tells TheVillageCelebration’s Vickie Newton why membership in Gloryland can change generations.

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Policing Their Own http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/policing-their-own/ Sun, 25 Jun 2017 18:13:55 +0000 http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/?p=18086 It’s become more and more challenging for Black police officers to remain silent when their White counterparts kill men and women of color. One of the most important voices in the national conversation about police brutality is Reddit Hudson, a former police officer. Hudson recently spoke with TheVillageCelebration’s Vickie Newton about the need for Black […]

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It’s become more and more challenging for Black police officers to remain silent when their White counterparts kill men and women of color. One of the most important voices in the national conversation about police brutality is Reddit Hudson, a former police officer. Hudson recently spoke with TheVillageCelebration’s Vickie Newton about the need for Black officers and others to speak out.

 

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New Documentary Explores Families’ Pain as Chicago Sets Holiday Record http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/new-documentary-explore-families-pain-chicago-sets-holiday-record/ Wed, 21 Jun 2017 23:59:28 +0000 http://www.thevillagecelebration.com/?p=18133 Community activists and police are working to write a new narrative in Chicago, but the Fourth of July weekend didn’t help their effort. Again, as in years past, there was a record number of homicides in the Windy City. Police report 15 homicides and more than 100 wounded in shootings. Last year over the July […]

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Community activists and police are working to write a new narrative in Chicago, but the Fourth of July weekend didn’t help their effort. Again, as in years past, there was a record number of homicides in the Windy City. Police report 15 homicides and more than 100 wounded in shootings.

Last year over the July 4th holiday, four people were killed and 46 were injured. Seven were killed and 40 wounded in 2015. Residents are alarmed by the consistent violence, and some say it’s changing their long-term plans for living in the city.

Lisa Butler is a former United Airlines flight attendant whose work as a research assistant motivated her to produce the documentary, What’s Left Behind, about the victims of gun violence.

Butler says, “It was an attempt to document the murders of these young people and the impact on their families and to understand the humanity of those shot. You hear 30 seconds on the news, but I want to know, ‘Who are these people? And I wanted to ask their families specifically who were these people? And, what impact the murder has had on their health.’”

Fifteen families were interviewed for the documentary, but Butler says that’s “only a drop in the bucket.”

As a licensed clinical therapist, Butler discovered paralyzing agony among the family members who lost loved ones. “I have a lot of moms who want to deal…and no resources to help them process it.”

The documentary is still in production, and Butler continues to raise funds for the project. But, as the holiday weekend demonstrates, the devastating impact of the city’s gun violence needs to be documented and shared in hopes of creating a groundswell of support that can marshal its resources for change.

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