Too long, too many gone

Rhonda Erwin is a Meadowview resident who is working to stop gun violence among Sacramento’s youth

I attended the July 14 funeral service for 19-year-old Tyesha Shaunte Yvonne Gallien, who was shot and killed on Independence Day. I watched Gallien’s grieving family walk down the center aisle and was caught off-guard as I recognized several members. I took a look around the church, and it was like a reunion of my middle-school and high-school classmates.

Among my old classmates was the sister of a young man who was shot and killed by another youth. I remember the face of his mother as she mourned her son, and I was struck by how this violence against youth has continued to plague Sacramento for well over two decades.

The home-going for Gallien brought with it a sense of peace. As I hugged and greeted many among the mourners, I was comforted. Gallien and her family served Christ. Her death is tragic, but her life is blessed.

Gallien’s mother told the youth minister that she did not want her daughter’s death to be in vain. She wants other teens and youths brought to Christ. I watched a family transform its tragedy with praise and strength.

We in Sacramento will need all the praise and strength we can call upon in order to battle the plague of gun violence that is upon us. There is a crisis in Sacramento, with dozens of young men and women dead or injured at the hands of others since the first of the year. Too many of our youngest citizens are losing their lives.

In one weekend last month, four young men were killed by other youths with guns. During a five-day stretch in June, nine teens were shot. The Sacramento Bee reported that 15 youths have been charged as adults in murder cases so far this year. The Sacramento Police Department’s spokesman would have us believe that many of these killings are the result of “criminal on criminal” violence.

But Gallien was not a criminal. She decided to go for a ride with her friend and a couple of young men on the wrong night. She was a young, Christian, single, working mother. She leaves a 1-year-old daughter to be raised by her family. Gallien deserves not to have died in vain. We must stop these killings.