October 21, 2017

FAMILY MATTERS:

Rep. Frederica Wilson didn't flinch at Trump's attacks. Her record explains why. (Derek Hawkins October 19 , 2017, Washington Post)

Wilson has a long track record of taking on her constituents' tragedies as her own, helping people grieve and rallying her community in tough times -- especially those who come out of her program, news archives show.

When a 22-year-old soldier from south Florida was killed in a car-bomb attack in the early days of the Iraq War, the news fell hard on Wilson.

It was spring 2004, and Wilson was then a state senator representing the Miami area. The soldier, Pfc. Jeremy Ricardo Ewing, was not only her constituent but a recent graduate of her mentoring program. She had known him since he was a middle-schooler.

At his funeral, she was overcome with grief and anger. She told the Miami Herald at the time that she believed Ewing died fighting in a senseless war, and she criticized the Bush administration's rationale for the U.S.-led invasion. "I could not help but think how we went into war when the president said there are weapons of mass destruction," she said. "And to this day, to this day, we have not found them. Now, Jeremy is gone."

Days later, the 5,000 Role Models program held a memorial service honoring Ewing. Wilson lit a candle for him, and offered more restrained remarks about his death. "It's unfortunate what happened to this young man," she said, "but I feel proud to say I knew him and that he was part of my organization."

Ewing's death came shortly after another graduate of the program, Edmond Randle, 26, was killed by an improvised explosive device on a road north of Baghdad. Wilson knew him, too, as local media noted at the time.

Two years later, in 2006, Miami-Dade County was rattled by an alarming spike in homicides. Three of the victims had taken part in Wilson's program. One was college-bound alum of 5,000 Role Models. Another was a wood shop teacher who served as a program mentor.

The third, Eviton Brown, 24,was a star football player who attended Florida A&M University, the Herald reported at the time.

When Brown was gunned down in northern Miami in October 2006, Wilson seized on the opportunity to call for gun control to curb the violence that killed the three men.

"He was killed with an assault weapon that probably only those fighting in a war should have access to," she told the Herald.

The same year, a 9-year-old girl was struck by a stray bullet and killed while she was playing in front of her house in Miami's Liberty City neighborhood. The morning of her funeral, Wilson announced that the girl's teenage brother would be awarded a full college scholarship, the Herald reported at the time.

Ending gun violence has been one of Wilson's signature campaigns since she became active in politics.

In the late 1990s, as a school board member, she founded Stop Day, a statewide cease-fire and anti-violence pledge. She has also marched in vigils and presided over community meetings on gun violence, and has long focused on keeping children safe from gunfire.

Posted by at October 21, 2017 6:58 PM

  

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