Youth activists galvanize communities to fight gun violence

CHICAGO – April 4, 2006 is the day that Trevon Bosley became an activist. Twelve years ago, his brother Terrell Bosley, 18, was preparing for band rehearsal outside a church on the Southeast Side of Chicago when someone fired shots and killed him.

Since that day Bosley, 20, of Roseland, joined Chicago youth activist movements advocating for an end to gun violence so that no one else loses their brother.

“I didn’t want anyone else to go through the pain of losing a loved one,” Bosley said.

“I wanted to use my anger and my passion to try to do something positive in the community.”

Bosley is part of a new generation of young activists inspired to end the cycle of gun violence in their neighborhoods and nationwide.

Five months ago, Bosley led thousands of protestors in the chant “everyday shootings are everyday problems” during the Washington, D.C. March for Our Lives.

Bosley is a member of Bold Resistance Against Violence Everywhere, or B.R.A.V.E., and Chicago Strong. Both youth activist groups advocate for peace in the community and empower young voices to speak out against gun violence.

Diego Garcia, 16, of Brighton Park, led 50 Chicago teenagers to the March for Our Lives demonstration and recently participated in the die-in outside Trump Tower in June.

As a member of Chicago Strong, Garcia advocates for immigrants on the Near South Side who are afraid of speaking up about gun violence. Garcia said his motivation stems from fear of a shooting in his neighborhood or school.

“It’s always in the back of my head that I might be the next victim of a school shooting and nobody is doing anything about it,” Garcia said.

This past weekend Isabella Johnson, 15, of Naperville, organized a rally outside Trump Tower for Stand to Save Chicago, a student-led organization fighting for safety in schools and communities. Johnson plans to meet with politicians about legislation to protect students from school shootings.

“I’m not going to wait until my school gets shot up to start doing something,” Johnson said. “I’m going to take action now.”

Johnson’s mother, Cindy Johnson, was heartbroken for the parents who lost their children in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“I never ever want to get the phone call that a lot of parents have received or the text message from their kids that are in a high school locked in a classroom,” Cindy Johnson said.

According to the most recent data from the Chicago Tribune, there have been 1,876 people shot in Chicago this year. Of those shooting victims, 83 were youths ranging in age from less than a year old to 16.

Bosley said he wants people to remember the names and just not the number of those killed by gun violence so that victims like his brother do not become another statistic.

“I definitely want to see in the future that people understand that these are lives and not just numbers,” Bosley said.  “These were innocent kids, no different than your own child.”

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