I am a visual artist. My work has always been grounded in issues from living the day to day. I see the visual world as a mirror of human priorities. My work is meant to initiate an examination of the inherent responsibility that goes with living.
Trinity Ottoson-Smith was shot in the head on May 15 in north Minneapolis during a birthday party. She was jumping on a trampoline when she was struck by a bullet. She was hit by a stray bullet fired at another residence. Trinity was nine years old. Let me say this again-Trinity was nine years old. For twelve days she fought for her life, but on May 27, 2021 she died.
Trinity wanted to be a teacher. She was shot in the head jumping on a trampoline. The gun culture in America is killing our children. The phrase “only in America” has new meaning.
As we celebrated the gift of love that a mother bestows on her children, shots were fired at people from Colorado Springs to Phoenix to a Baltimore suburb to California to Newark to Milwaukee to St Louis. People were shot dead or hit with a bullet tearing into one’s flesh. For too many this Mother’s Day weekend was not a celebration of love, but a time for grieving.
It seems that as the corona virus retreats gun violence increases. Does our America need a new warning: Be careful where you go, be careful because there are too many guns, too many short tempers, too little respect for life?
On April 15, 2021 at 11 pm at the Indianapolis FedEx facility, it was a normal evening. Some workers were ending their shift and others were taking a break, heading to their cars to eat and relax before returning to work, and others were working in the facility. It was a normal evening until it was a tragic evening. A man with a gun came to this FedEx facility in Indianapolis on that normal evening and opened fire in the parking lot and inside the building. Eight people were killed – shot down instantly – ending their lives in pools of blood. It was a normal evening until it wasn’t.
On April 30, 2019 at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Riley Howell, 21, was shot dead point blank while protecting his classmates from a school shooter.
On May 7, 2019 at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Denver , Kendrick Castillo, 18, was shot dead point blank while protecting his classmates from a school shooter.
These two young men are heroes. Riley and Kendrick both rushed a shooter so that their classmates had a chance to escape being shot.
Wrap your mind around this-children and young adults are being faced with the choice of being shot as part of a mass shooting or being shot as a hero who sacrifices one’s life to protect one’s classmates.
Children and young adults are being taught Run, Hide, Fight. Fight with nothing but an unprotected body. Fight with no training. A fight which can only result in a sacrifice when the fight is against a loaded gun.
We must understand what we are asking our students to do. We must take responsibility for every school shooting death and injury. It is our collective guilt because, as a country, we have not seriously addressed the school shooting crisis.
On September 5, 2018, Delmonte Johnson was 19 years old. As a young man who lived in Chicago on the South Side, he knew the tragedy that gun violence brings to families and to community. Delmonte wanted to make a difference. He was an active anti gun violence advocate. He was a volunteer with GoodKids MadCity. He spearheaded fundraising to give children a chance to go to camp. He was an activist and he was shot and killed on the sidewalk of a South Side street in Chicago. The deadly bullets came from a car. The car sped away leaving Delmonte a new statistic in the toll gun violence takes on our young people across America. But he is not a hash mark, he was a brother and a son. He was a bright light. We, as part of the American community, must keep his light shinning and continue his work to stop gun violence.
5/18/18 is the day of another school shooting. Eight students and two teachers did not return home from Santa Fe High School because they were shot dead while at school. I ask America what are we going to do about the killing of our youth. Youth are gunned down in schools and on our city streets. The youth of America is the future of America. We adults are failing our youth by not making strict laws, by not rethinking the #2A. When will we start to stop the blood shed? No child should fear being shot- this is America. And shame on us – this is the America where children fear being shot.
Friday, April 20, 2018, 17-year-old boy was shot in the ankle by a 19-year-old man. He was shot in school.
This happened on the day of a National Walkout Against Gun Violence. Students at Forest High School, Ocala, Florida were planning to walk out in protest against gun violence. Before they could participate in this peaceful statement against gun violence, shots broke out in their high school.
All reports are focused on the fact that the injury was not “life threatening”. Let us be clear a gunshot wound to the ankle can be life changing. Being shot is life changing.
This should not be acceptable.
Each one of us needs to address the culture of guns in America.
I am screaming this to you: Tuesday, January 23, 2018, two Marshall County High School students went to school and were shot dead by a fellow student with a hand gun. The students who died were Bailey Nicole Holt, 15 years old and Preston Ryan Cope, also 15 years old. Twelve other students were hit with gun fire and five of these students are in critical condition. The shooter was 15 years old.
Did you hear me. Kids were shot and killed today at school. AGAIN. AGAIN.
And the news of a high school shooting was reduced to a chyron on the TV screen.
On Thursday, December 7, 2017, Casey Marquez and Francisco Fernandez went to school. They were students at Aztec High School in Aztec, New Mexico. Casey was 17 years old. Francisco was 18 years old. They never came home from school. They were shot dead at school.
On December 6, 2017, the House passed The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. This will permit concealed carry license holders to conceal a handgun in other states.
No single legislation will prevent gun violence and no single legislation causes gun violence, but the national attitude prevents a change in the gun culture that is part of the American fabric.
The gun culture kills. Our youth are being killed at school. Our youth are being killed at concerts. Our youth are being killed at malls. Our youth are being shot and killed.
Casey and Francisco are dead. They were shot at school.