Ann Keil

dig. then dig a little deeper.

MLK

IMG_20170303_094736_997I was honored to receive an invitation to speak at a ‘Guitars over Guns’ event a few weeks back inside the Perez Art Museum. The non-profit offers arts-based mentoring programs to at-risk youth.

It was a community call to action and a platform for those who want to make a difference. be a part of the good. the solution. the answer. hope. a life saved. the future.

Teens involved in the program presented a music video that speaks to the true impact of senseless, teen gun violence.

We also heard from Guitars over Guns’ co-founder Chad Bernstein, City of Miami Police Department Commander Francisco Fernandez and Miami Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho after one of ‘GoGo’s’ alumni bands played several songs. WPLG-TV’s Neki Mohan…serving as our eloquent host.

There was a lot of feeling in that room.

I wish I could make music like those talented teens, but I am a writer. I always have been, and I write through the feeling to get to the next step. goal. decision.

This is what I shared.

 

I WOKE UP AT ABOUT 3 IN THE MORNING.. A FEW DAYS AGO.. AND WITH JUST ONE EYE OPEN …THESE THOUGHTS. THESE IMAGES. CAME TO MIND. SO, I STARTED WRITING.

BREAK DOWN. SCREAM. COLLAPSE.

ASK …WHY… WHY… WHY…

FIND GOD. FIND FORGIVENESS. HOLD TIGHT TO LOVED ONES FEARING THEY MIGHT LOSE THEM NEXT ANOTHER DAY SOON.

TOO OFTEN WE SEE THE WORDS  “VICTIMS MOTHER..FATHER OR FRIEND” IN TYPE BELOW A TEARFUL FACE. I WROTE IT DOWN FIRST FOR A PRODUCER… FOR OUR VIEWERS AFTER I LIVED IT WITH THE BROKEN-HEARTED.

IT DEFINES THE BEFORE AND THE AFTER. TODAY, ON THE NEWS… ON TV. THEIR LIVES CHANGED FOREVER IN FRONT OF THE WORLD.

DEATH. LOSS. FRUSTRATION. PAIN. ANGER. SADNESS.

MORE AND MORE VICTIMS.

INNOCENCE LOST.

ON JANUARY 16, DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JUNIOR DAY, BULLETS RANG OUT IN A CROWDED PARK IN NORTHWEST MIAMI DADE. I WAS THERE ON ASSIGNMENT ABOUT 1000 FEET AWAY. FAMILIES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN WERE THERE TO HONOR AND CELEBRATE A MAN WHO IS TRULY AN UNDYING SYMBOL OF PEACE, UNITY, EQUALITY, STRENGTH AND COMMUNITY.

8 PEOPLE WERE SHOT. TWO OF THEM GRAZED. THE VICTIMS RANGED IN AGE BETWEEN 11 AND 30 YEARS OLD. LUCKILY, THEY ALL SURVIVED …BUT THEY HAVE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL SCARS THAT WILL LIKELY LAST A LIFETIME.

AND… I CAN’T FORGET THE CRYING CHILDREN LOST IN THE CHAOS. MY PHOTOGRAPHER RAN IN SECONDS AFTER WE THOUGHT WE HAD HEARD THE LAST SHOT. I FOLLOWED MOMENTS LATER. THE SCENE… EERY. THERE WAS A STAMPEDE OF PEOPLE RUNNING FOR THEIR LIVES IN MY DIRECTION AS I PUSHED FORWARD IN SEARCH OF ANSWERS.

DOZENS OF TERRIFIED MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN DESPERATE FOR A SAFE PLACE.. LAID FLAT ON THEIR STOMACHS..BETWEEN FOOD TRUCKS AND TENTS AS OFFICERS, GUNS DRAWN, CARRIED THE INJURED PAST THEM.

MY FIRST INTERVIEW WAS WITH A VENDOR NAMED TAMMY MEEKS. THESE ARE HER WORDS.

 “I HAD MY SON OUT HERE, MY NIECES AND NEPHEWS WERE HERE, AND MY MAIN CONCERN WAS TO MAKE SURE THEY WERE OKAY. MY MAIN GOAL… WAS TO GET DOWN AND COVER THEM, SO THEY WOULDN’T BE HARMED. IT’S TERRIBLE. I MEAN, THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JUNIOR DAY. THIS SHOULD BE ONE OF THE DAYS OUT OF THE YEAR WHERE WHETHER YOU’RE WHITE, BLACK, HISPANIC — NO MATTER WHAT YOU ARE — WE COME TOGETHER –AND JUST HAVE FUN —AND CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER. IT’S SENSELESS THAT WE CAN’T JUST DO THAT …ON ONE DAY OF THE YEAR.”

SHE WAS RIGHT. SHE IS RIGHT.

THAT CANNOT…SHOULD NOT… CONTINUE TO HAPPEN.

TWO YOUNG MEN HAVE BEEN CHARGED IN WHAT POLICE ARE CALLING A GANG-RELATED SHOOTING. THEY WERE ARRESTED ABOUT A WEEK LATER. THAT’S WHEN I SPOKE WITH ONE OF THE YOUNGEST VICTIMS GRAZED BY A BULLET… A BULLET THAT COULD HAVE PARALYZED HER OR TAKEN HER LIFE.

SHE HAD THIS INNOCENCE… THAT WAS OVERSHADOWED BY FEAR AND PAIN. SHE TOLD ME EVEN AFTER FEELING THE INTENSE BURN OF THE BULLET… SHE RAN FASTER THAN SHE THOUGHT SHE EVER COULD.

HER THOUGHTS: I’M NOT 14 YEARS OLD YET. MY BIRTHDAY… IS ON FRIDAY.

SHE COULDN’T FATHOM NOT HAVING ANOTHER BIRTHDAY.

A STRANGER… MOMENTS LATER RUSHED HER INTO THEIR HOME FEARING MORE SHOTS WOULD BE FIRED.

THAT IS WHY WE ARE HERE TONIGHT.

TEEN VIOLENCE… GUN VIOLENCE TEARS AT THE FABRIC OF OUR SOCIETY… AND WHO WE ARE DEEP DOWN. IT CARVES

REAL SCARS, BUT WE CAN… FIGHT IT. FIGHT HARD WITH WORDS AND ACTIONS OF LOVE TO MAKE SURE THAT THE DARK… IS FOLLOWED BY LIGHT.

MLK

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