Saying their names: remembering the victims of fatal shootings, amid continued grief and frustration

Mourning the loss of loved ones to gun violence, victims’ families and friends keep searching for serenity and justice.

The Pacific NW magazine cover story that photographer Bettina Hansen, videographer Corinne Chin and I produced reminds us of the shattering impact of a type of violence that tends to play out in disturbingly public ways — shots fired from cars, shootings during disputes outside of clubs, and shootings in otherwise-quiet residential neighborhoods with victims both intended and unintended.

Spring and summer brought moving remembrances and demonstrations on behalf of victims of fatal shootings, the most notable of which was the outpouring of grief and frustration over the death of North Seattle resident Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old, pregnant, single mother who was fatally shot by police responding to a 911 call at her home in Seattle’s Sand Point neighborhood in June.

At this summer’s Umoja Fest, a celebration of black heritage in the Central District, demonstrators marched down 23rd Avenue South chanting, “Say her name!” in honor of Lyles, who was African American, to keep attention on the investigation into the shooting, which they see as unjustified.

Right behind them, another group of marchers chanted, “Say his name!” for Giovonn Joseph-McDade, a 20-year-old motorist who was shot and killed by Kent police officers during an attempted traffic stop, also in June.

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Though they sometimes receive less sustained attention or public outcry, shootings that don’t involve police officers cause just as much devastation for loved ones, and in their own way erode our sense of the way things ought to be.

As journalists, it is our job to report the news. But there are times when the news compels us to reach beyond the day’s headlines for greater meaning, or simply to revisit and remember.

My reaction to the killing of 21-year-old Kalin Lubben, aka Makaiel Blackwell, who was fatally shot in April in a case that is not solved, was at first exasperation. Here was yet another young African-American man who could have been my nephew or neighbor — or yours — taken too soon, shot in the head and left for dead for more than five hours in the stairwell of a Renton apartment complex.

Howard Blackwell says his son Makaiel, who was also known as Kalin Lubben, was “just getting ready” to start a new chapter in his life when…

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