Tuesday, May 27, 2014
(Note: All Images Copyright 2014 S. E. Jihad Levine, All Rights Reserved)
According to Philadelphia, PA Police Department records, 350 persons were murdered in the City of Philadelphia in the year of 2003.
A few days before his 22nd birthday, on November 21, 2003, Tarif Wooden became Philadelphia's 315th homicide victim.
Police records state that Tarif died from a gunshot wound, and the official motive for his murder is simply listed as "drugs."
On the corner of 18th and Ontario in North Philly, there's a beautiful mural dedicated to the memory of Tarif Wooden. The mural shows a very young African-American man as he looked before somebody's gun brought him down in the prime of his life.
Who knows what Tarif Wooden could have become or accomplished in this life had he not been murdered, or who he might have turned out to be had he straightened his life out before his lifestyle appears to have taken him out?
What is clear, for sure, is that Tarif Wooden had a family who loved him.
And friends who loved and cared about him.
Looks like somebody named "Chick," not wanting to be left out, added his/her name later on with some black paint.
As I photograph Tarif's mural, folks walk by, slow down, and reflect on his memory.
The young man stops. Perhaps to offer his respects? Maybe he knew Tarif?
One things is clear: the folks in this neighborhood will never forget Tarif Wooden.
People often forget that although some young men like Tarif (if what they claim about him is true) may have been in the "lifestyle" or that they themselves may have victimized others -- in the end, they are victims. Victims of violence.
Despite it all, no one deserves to be murdered.
No mother, grandmother, deserves to grieve for a child cut down too soon, before he or she even gets a chance to live life to its fullest potential.
Everyone deserves a chance to figure it out.
Tarif Wooden never got a chance to figure it out. He was robbed. He was murdered and robbed.