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Call to action: support fundraiser for 3-year-old shooting victim Kyron Zarco


By Mokah Jasmine Johnson

On Saturday, March 16, 2024, Kyron Santino Zarco, the three-year-old who was shot and killed in the Athens Hallmark neighborhood on March 8th was laid to rest. The funeral was hosted at the Arnold Grove Baptist Church in Arnoldsville, Georgia. Yet, the fight for justice is far from over and Kyron's mother is left with picking up the pieces. “The death of a child is considered the single worst stressor a person can go through'' - Joshua A. Krisch and the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement calls for continuous community prayer and support for his mother and Kyron’s family. 

This tragic shooting happened on Friday, March 8, while Kyron and his 9-year-old brother were watching a movie at home. In addition to this horrific incident, a day after the shooting, a tree fell on their home. The alleged shooters have been apprehended, but Kyron’s mother Shanita Smith, and this family will continue to suffer the loss long after the murders are sentenced. 

In Times like this, as a community, we must come together to help ease the emotional and financial burden simply by donating to help this family achieve their fundraising goal. 

Over the past few years, Black Athenians have experienced an increase in street and gun violence and innocent lives have been lost. Too many victims have been impacted by gun violence right here in Athens such as 24-year-old Auriel Callaway. She was known to friends as "Thumpa" and was shot in 2019 while pregnant and trying to shield her son from stray bullets. Then, four-year-old Ne’vaeh was injured when a stray bullet shattered the glass at a dance studio in Athens and grazed Ne’vaeh’s left eye. Ne’vaeh now wears a prosthetic eye. 

The problem of gun and street violence just keeps growing and the shooters seemingly are getting younger. 

Many years ago, my daughter gave a speech and quoted an old African Proverb, stating, “The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth." I now see that the village is burning, especially after a 3-year-old was shot and killed by teenagers. The problem of youth violence did not begin today. It has been bubbling underneath the surface for decades and we now see the results of a broken system. There is a deep-rooted problem in the Classic City and as a community, we must seek ways to collaborate and get involved to help keep our children safe. 

“It's truly heartbreaking to hear about Kyron Zarco's tragic passing. Unfortunately, my husband and I are familiar with this type of pain and we know life will never be the same for this family.  

As a non-profit, human rights organization, the AADM wants to encourage others to donate to the Kyron Zarco Gofundme.The fundraising goal is $30,000.00.  Currently, they have raised a little over $25,000.  

To make a donation directly support a fundraiser created for Kyron's family, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/please-help-support-baby-dro-and-family

You can also  join the AADM Black Mothers Healing Committee (BMHC) created to offer emotional support and resources to mothers who have lost their children to unexpected tragedies, gun or street violence.  We must be proactive, not reactive. We must do everything we can to deter our children from these streets and keep them safe.

If you would like to join BMLC, please visit https://www.aadmovement.org/join-the-movement/

Mokah Jasmine Johnson is cofounder and chief executive officer of the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement.

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