On New Year’s eve 1991, Damian Campbell of Miami, then 13, walked home for an evening of television cartoons. He never made it, says the Miami Herald. He was hit by a stray bullet and wound up in the hospital for 11 days. The gunfire was part of an old Miami custom to celebrate the new year. Today, the area’s leading police agencies and community activists will plead with residents to end the holiday gunfire, as part of a “No More Stray Bullets” campaign. The campaign is in its sixth year, and its message appears to have penetrated the psyche in most parts of Miami-Dade. No holiday gunfire injuries have been reported since 1999.
“People respect the fact that we don’t want another life lost. That’s the good part of this initiative,” said the Rev. Jerome Starling, executive director of the Rickia Issac Foundation. The anti-gun-violence organization was created in memory of Rickia, a 5-year-old girl who was killed by a stray bullet while walking home from a Martin Luther King Day parade in 1997. During the 1990s, at least three people were killed and six injured as a result of celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve.