The billboards – reminders of lives cruelly cut short – should begin dotting the Boston skyline by mid-June, says the Boston Globe. Designed by surviving relatives, the billboards will depict young victims of homicide. They are sons and grandsons and nephews and occasionally daughters, and Monalisa Smith hopes the images will jolt you when you look at them. “Our goal is to wage a campaign for our children,'' said Smith, president of a grass-roots group called Mothers for Justice and Equality. “We wanted to humanize them and say this is not normal, and not just about drugs and gangs. Our goal was to humanize them.''
Mothers for Justice and Equality was formed as a support and advocacy group for the expanding ranks of parents who have lost their children to violence. Clear Channel, the communications behemoth, agreed to donate 57 billboards over several months depicting the victims. Smith’s nephew, Eric Smith, 18, was shot to death in a 2010 homicide that remains unsolved. Her group's tactics are largely adapted from the work of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. By Smith's reasoning, that organization succeeded by humanizing the issue of drunken driving. Her group hopes to do the same with urban crime. “The Centers for Disease Control says 12 children a day are dying from violence, and 86 percent of that is from firearms,'' she noted. “And the majority of that is black and brown boys.''