GOAL: Spread awareness & remember young and innocent victims - students who were on track to graduate had they not encountered police officers. Teenagers who had family and friends, hopes and dreams, who lived and laughed. To those students; to those brothers; to those sons; to those friends; we celebrate the lives you lived. We remember you as we graduate, as we walk up those stairs; across those stages; out those doors; because we know that some of our classmates did not get the chance to do the same.
"I don't know where we go from here because those of us who recognize the injustice are not the problem. Law enforcement militarized and indifferent to black lives, is the problem."
-Roxane Gay, Alton Sterling & When Black Lives Stop Mattering
For those that couldn't walk,
D'ettrick Griffin was a student athlete at Benjamin E Mays High School. His house was filled with football trophies, and his outgoing personality was known to brighten anyone’s day. After graduating, he planned to pursue a career as an aviation mechanic. On January 15h, 2019, those plans were destroyed. D’ettrick was shot multiple times by a plain-clothed Atlanta officer during an alleged attempt to steal an unmarked police car. He was less than five months away from ending high school- but he never got to graduate.
Kwame “KK” Jones:
Kwame “KK” Jones was killed by police after he and a friend were stopped while driving in a car in Jacksonville, Florida, on Jan. 5, 2020. He was 17 years old. Police said that an officer approached the car and “an exchange” ensued. The cop then fired his weapon several times, striking both Jones and the other unidentified male, who survived the shooting. Jones did not. Police claim there was a rifle in the car, which Jones’ family said was suspicious since the photo evidence is “of a gun that has already been booked into evidence and not a photo from the scene.
At the start of 2020, Alvin Cole was on track to graduate from high school. He would be attending Jackson State University in Mississippi and had his whole life in front of him. However, he was shot and killed outside of a local mall by a Wauwatosa Police Officer on February 2nd. Alvin had just turned 17. He never got to go to Jackson State. He never got to graduate.Kwame “KK” Jones was killed by police after he and a friend were stopped while driving in a car in Jacksonville, Florida, on Jan. 5, 2020. He was 17 years old. Police said that an officer approached the car and “an exchange” ensued. The cop then fired his weapon several times, striking both Jones and the other unidentified male, who survived the shooting. Jones did not. Police claim there was a rifle in the car, which Jones’ family said was suspicious since the photo evidence is “of a gun that has already been booked into evidence and not a photo from the scene.
Tamir Rice was a seventh grade student athlete at Marion-Seltzer Elementary School. He was described by his teachers as a “pleasant boy”, and was an exceptionally gifted football player. While playing at the park, police mistook his toy for a real gun and shot Tamir multiple times. As his sister screamed for help, officers handcuffed her, refusing to give Tamir the immediate medical attention he so desperately needed. Fighting for his life, Tamir died at a local hospital on November 23rd, 2014- the day after he was shot. He was 12 years old. Tamir was a part of the high school class of 2020. He never got to graduate.
João Pedro Matos Pinto:
João Pedro Matos Pinto was a gifted young boy from Brazil who aspired to be a top lawyer someday. He always used to tell his dad, “One day, I’ll make you proud.” Unfortunately, João’s dad was never able to watch him grow up and fulfill his dreams. On May 18th- just 15 days into his local coronavirus quarantine- João was about to leave for his cousin’s home when the police raided his neighborhood in search of drug traffickers. João, unarmed and completely innocent, was “caught in the crossfire”. He was only 14. He never got to become a lawyer. He never got to graduate.
Mouhamed Cisse was a naturally gifted cellist and drummer who was a part of the Philadelphia School District’s Instrumental Music Program and played for the Musicopia String Orchestra. Mouhamed touched the hearts of everyone in his life- his music teachers thought of him as “brilliant and humble” and his mother, an immigrant from the Ivory Coast, relied on him for English interpretation. On May 31st of this year. Mouhamed’s beautiful life and music were cut short when he was shot while walking home with his friend amidst Black Lives Matter protests. He was 18 years old. He never got to grow up and become a famous musician. He never got to graduate.
Antwon Rose II was a regular volunteer and honor roll student who took multiple Advanced Placement classes and played basketball. In 2016, he wrote in one of his poems that he felt “confused and afraid”. He went on to write, “I see mothers bury their sons. I want my mom to never feel that pain.” Antwon’s worst fear came true when he was fatally shot and killed on June 19th, 2018 by a former police officer in East Pittsburgh. At his time of death, Antwon was a passenger in a car that officers suspected to be involved with a nearby crime scene. Antwon was an unarmed 17 year old. He never got to graduate.
Jordan Edwards was an outstanding freshman athlete at Mesquite High School. On April 29th, 2017, the honor roll student was leaving a house party with his two older brothers when he was shot and killed by a police officer responding to underage drinking reports. Sitting in the car unarmed with a bullet in his head, Jordan died shortly after being rushed to the hospital. He was only 15 years old. He never got to graduate.
Aiyanna Jones was a second grade student at Trix Elementary who really liked Disney princesses. Her favorite color was pink. She had trouble sleeping in her own bed at night. In the early hours of May 16th, 2010, she was peacefully sleeping on the couch next to her grandmother when East Detroit police threw a grenade at her through the window. Immediately, Aiyana was set on fire. As her grandmother rushed to save her, the police busted the door open and shot Aiyana through the neck. Even after the police realized they had shot a little girl, Aiyana was left to die on the scene, with her family forced to soak in their own child’s blood for hours. Aiyana was a mere 7 years old. She never culminated elementary school, went to middle or high school, got ready for prom, or got her driver’s license. This year, she would have turned 18 and been a part of the high school class of 2020. But she never got to graduate.