March 29, 2019
By Kimmi Herring
As the director of Safe Horizon’s Brooklyn Community Programs, I work regularly with families who have lost loved ones to gun violence. As I watched the video of Tyquan Eversley running for his life, hiding behind a car and being shot five times, I thought of them. And I thought of the many parts of trauma and violence that too often go underreported following these kinds of tragedies.
1. These Tragedies Traumatize Entire Communities
The tendrils of pain following Tyquan’s death will stretch far. The neighborhood’s sense of safety is shaken. Anyone who recognizes that block will think of violence the next time they walk down it. The owners of the backyard where Tyquan fled, and anyone who stepped foot in it, will wonder where they can go to be safe. And everyone who lives there will know their community is not the same as it was the day before. And for communities that regularly see violence, these effects are amplified.
2. Support Without Judgment Can Help This Family, And This Community, Move Forward
That means not calling an innocent victim and noting a prior arrest history in the same breath. That means recognizing the victim as an individual, sharing their talents, strengths, likes, and dreams, and not just their tragedy. Every victim and those who loved them deserve respect and dignity.
3. Safe Horizon Can Help Families on Their Journey Toward Healing
Following this kind of tragedy, any family would need help. We help families apply for funds for burial costs. We accompany families to court proceedings. We act as an advocate with the medical examiner’s office, the district attorney’s office, and the police department. And we help victims connect to counseling and to others who can share and help them manage their grief. We know every path to healing looks different, and we stay with families as long as they need us.
In my work with Safe Horizon’s homicide program, I’ve sadly supported thousands of families who have lost loved ones. My hope is that someday, we will live in a city where families no longer need my help.