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Mural honors victims of gun violence in Tacoma’s Eastside neighborhood

A mural at Tacoma's Eastside Community Center honors young people who lost their lives to gun violence.

TACOMA, Wash. — Jeremy Dashiell is all too familiar with the impact of gun violence. His brother, Terrence Malone, was killed in 2003. He was 19 years old.

Dashiell now works with young people in Tacoma’s Eastside neighborhood, hoping to help them stay on the right track. But he said many of those children are also familiar with gun violence, and without a healthy outlet, they can have difficulty coping with the tragedy and trauma that follows.

However, Dashiell said many of the youth in the area finally have a place to go now that the Eastside Community Center is open.

Recently, the community center debuted a mural called "In Loving Memory" to remember young people whose lives were taken too soon due to gun violence.

Artist Dionne Bonner said the mural is supposed to honor those who have passed and highlight the impact they had on those around them.

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“I wanted this mural to give people a point of reference of remembering these people, but also celebrating their life and what they did bring to people’s lives while they were here,” explained Bonner.

Metro Parks Tacoma Board Commissioner Rosie Ayala said Bonner’s mural highlights the importance of showcasing art in the community that speaks to the desires of the community.

“When we work with an artist, we want to make sure that the art piece is not just the vision of the artist, but it’s the vision the artist is bringing out of the community,” explained Ayala.

But the mural isn’t just still images on the wall. The art piece also has a section that displays the names of those who were killed by gun violence in the Eastside neighborhood.

But until gun violence is addressed, adding more names to the list means the mural will still be unfinished.

“The unfinishedness is about how there’s still a lot of work to do in the Eastside of Tacoma and other places in the city,” said Bonner. “It’s up to organizations, our leaders, our political leaders and our community to work together to provide a wholeness for the youth in this neighborhood for them to prosper. Because they’re our future.”

But Dashiell hopes one day the mural will finally be completed.

“I do feel like it can be finished, but it takes the village,” said Dashiell. “It takes the whole community; it takes people to really believe that we can collectively do this and save our youth. That’s the biggest thing. For it to be finished, our youth have to be saved.”

Anyone who knows a young person who was killed in an act of violence and would like their name added to the mural can submit the name on the Metro Parks Tacoma website.

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