"Since Parkland" Project Honors Minors Who Have Died from Gun Violence
By Caroline P.
February 26, 2019
“Since Parkland” is a project dedicated to remembering and recognizing the lives of minors killed due to gun violence. Written entirely by student journalists, we worked to write over 1,200 obituaries for individuals ages 0-18 whose lives were lost to gunfire in the year between the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, which took place on February 14, 2018, and February 14, 2019, the one year anniversary. Since Parkland is run by multiple publications; The Trace, Miami Herald, and McClatchy, but it is fully written by students.
Over the summer I was able to meet and interview Akoto Ofori Atta, the managing editor of The Trace, a publication whose mission is as follows: “The Trace is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit newsroom dedicated to shining a light on America’s gun violence crisis.” Clear and confident, Atta expressed her passion for reporting and covering stories often missed in the mainstream media.
This is where the Since Parkland project introduced itself to me. Intrigued and interested, I signed up having absolutely no idea what it entailed. From there, I worked to write my first story about Destiny Brown, a 17 year old girl from Ohio. This was the final version:
"A destiny and a girl, interrupted
Even at a young age, there were signs that one day her destiny would be caring for people: She loved babysitting her nieces and nephews. The youngest of seven, she had recently graduated from Job Corps, receiving her certification as a medical assistant.
She was the “sweetest person, lovable, real goofy, she loved to laugh, she always had a big smile on her face," said her sister, Alexis Meyers.
Destiny T. Brown, 17, at her graduation from Job Crops, receiving her certification as a medical assistant
Each story was supposed to be within a 100 word limit making the process very difficult. I decided what parts of this person I wanted to tell the world about without ever knowing them. I dug deep into the depths of the internet for hours, following her sister on facebook and calling to see if I could read police records of her death. By the end of the process I felt a deeper connection to Destiny, only one year older than me, killed for no apparent reason.
It is bittersweet to research about the lives of people killed, especially young people. While reading about them, it felt to me as though there should have been more information. As I looked deeper into their lives, I realized that any information I was missing was simply because their lives were so short. What is most heartbreaking was the potential of these children and their futures being extinguished with their death.
This project holds importance for so many reasons; the project being run by students gives power and voice to younger people regarding violence in this country affecting them. It is not often that we see students being handed the microphone, especially in a nationwide journalistic setting. This project also spread across political parties, inserts real stories into the gun debate, and attaches faces to the statistics. It humanized those lost every day. Each death was unjust and I desperately want them to be remembered.
“Through the determination of the student reporters who powered this project, we have gained an unprecedented account of the full scale and contours of gun violence as it impacts American children. Since Parkland was their story to tell. It is told in their voices. We believe it deserves your time.” Atta described on February 14, 2019, exactly one year after the shooting in Parkland.