On the night of Saturday August 1st, three black men engaged each other in a shootout on the 200 block of North Simpson Street in Philadelphia. When it was over, 7-year old Zamar Jones was shot in the head by one of their stray bullets as he sat on his front steps playing with his toy race cars.
A Philadelphia Police Officer rushed the boy to the hospital in critical condition. Sadly, Zamar passed away from his wounds yesterday afternoon. One of the gunmen was chased down and arrested by a responding officer. The other two men are still on the loose.
A few days after the shooting, I had still not heard about it. In fact, if not for one of my followers on social media, I'm confident that I would not have heard about this incident for days. Sadly, in today's day and age, a horrific incident like this gets virtually zero media coverage. However a criminal who resists arrest and gets shot by the police gets national media coverage.
As time went by, I began looking for place to donate money to the family of Zamar Jones. To my surprise, I couldn't find a single person or website that was raising money for this little boy's family. So I decided that I was going to do it myself.
I was unable to get any information about Zamar's family from the Philadelphia Police Department so I started the Go Fund Me in hopes that someone from his family would reach out. And sure enough, within 48 hours I was in contact with Zamar's mother Jennifer Lee.
As one could imagine, she was extremely upset and grieving. When I asked if she was receiving support from anyone notable, she said that she was not. She did say that the Police Department had been in fairly constant contact with her, but that aside, contact from any other parties was virtually non-existent.
In a time when celebrities, athletes and politicians are tweeting and putting on jerseys the names of criminals who fight with the police, I could not believe that nobody was saying Zamar's name. In a time when grown men with long criminal histories are getting gold casket funerals and millions of dollars in donations, not a single thing of the such was being done for Zamar or Jennifer. It was absolutely mind blowing and disturbing.
I made it my mission to get the word out on social media about what happened to Zamar. I promoted the Go Fund Me on every media outlet possible. I sent his story to all the major news networks. I sent messages to reporters. I did Facebook and YouTube Videos. I asked my high profile friends and followers to promote his story and his Go Fund Me. Whatever I could do, I did.
At first nothing happened. As I watched hundreds of thousands of dollars (and in some cases millions of dollars) flow into the bank accounts of grown men who resisted lawful arrest by the police, Zamar's Go Fund Me account had less than $1,000 in it. But then it happened...
I did a Facebook Live about how poorly his fundraiser was going and how it was a complete and utter travesty. The video starting going viral and the donations began pouring in. Within 24 hours the account grew from $1,000 to $15,000. And over the course of the next week or so, the account grew to a staggering $70,000.
I kept pushing and promoting the video everywhere I possibly could. When all was said and done, Zamar's Go Fund Me had broken $73,000. I was truly blown away by the generosity of all the people who took the time to donate.
I know that I wasn't able to raise hundreds of thousands or millions like those other events that got global media attention. But I was happy to be able to call Zamar's mother Jennifer and present her with over $73k to help with the financial burdens and hardships that come with something tragic like this happening in ones life. I knew no amount of money could ever ease her pain or bring her son back. But I felt that this small gesture could help just a little bit.
We often hear that "one person can't make a difference." But in this case, one person DID make a difference. My actions, my one decision, lead to nearly 3,000 people opening up their hearts and donating to the Go Fund Me I had created. Once again, I can't thank those folks enough. YOU are the ones that truly made this happen.
A few days ago a friend reached out and asked, "so why did you do it?" My response, "...because nobody else did and it was the right thing to do." I truly believe this was one of those situations where everyone thought someone else was going to do it. And ultimately, it never got done. What happened here is simply an example of what's possible when one person decides to not wait or hope for someone else to take action, but rather takes the action themselves (and asks questions and/or figures it out later).
I knew what happened to Zamar wouldn't get the attention of celebrities, pro athletes, politicians jockeying for office or the major news networks. It just didn't fit the narrative or agenda they are supporting. A 7 year old baby gets killed by gang violence and there's virtually zero attention. But a grown man with a horrific criminal history that resisted arrest, brandished a weapon and was shot by the police (not saying the shooting was justified) gets MILLIONS??? And THAT is what everyone reading this should find deeply disturbing.
Zamar was set to begin 2nd grade this month (September 2020), and is remembered for always helping out on his block. He would regularly do chores for his neighbors and run to the corner store if they needed something. When the students in his class held up signs to show what they wanted to be when they grow up, Zamar held one up that said “Future Police Officer”. #justiceforzamar