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Boy Who Appeared In Anti-Violence Video 'Getting Better' After Shooting

By Evan F. Moore | March 28, 2016 7:13pm | Updated on March 29, 2016 9:48am
"I don't want to live in a community where...people keep on getting shot," the boy said in a 2015 video.
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Youtube/Black is Human

AUSTIN — A Chicago boy who once appeared in an anti-violence video but was later shot is recovering at the hospital, the principal of his school says.

Catalyst Circle Rock Charter School principal Elizabeth Jamison-Dunn told DNAinfo Monday that the boy, Zarriel Trotter, 13, is "getting better." She declined to go into more detail about his condition out of respect for the family's wishes.

Zarriel Trotter, a seventh grader at Catalyst Circle Rock Charter School, was shot while walking with friends in the 5500 block of West Jackson Boulevard on Friday.

Last year, Zarriel appeared in a YouTube video called "Our Black Boys" produced by a group called Black is Human. The public service announcement begins: "The leading cause of death for black boys and teens: Homicide."

In the video, Zarriel says, "I don't want to live in a community where...people keep on getting shot, people keep on getting killed."

Jamison-Dunn said she got an email from Chicago Public Schools Saturday and was shocked to learn the identity of the student who had been shot.

"It was devastating but we can use this to get the message out about the gun violence in our community," Jamison-Dunn said. "I was really upset."

Jamison-Dunn said that Zarriel is a well-liked student who loves basketball along with being a participant in a school program called "Men Mentoring Men," a program in which 6th, 7th, and 8th grade boys learn the nuances of manhood.

She said students and staff had been trying to get in touch with her once Zarriel's identity was known.

"Everyone was really concerned," Jamison-Dunn said. "Staff members and students wanted to know what happened and to see if he was all right."

Since the shooting took place during the Easter holiday in which students had Friday and Monday off, Jamison-Dunn says that the first thing she is going to do when school resumes on Tuesday is to speak with her students.

"We're going to explain to the students what happened," Jamison-Dunn said. "We'll have counselors at the school."

Jamison-Dunn wants those who have heard about Zarriel's shooting to not get caught up in stereotypes about Chicago and the people who are victims of gun violence.

"We are not Chi-raq. Our boys are being demonized. This is a 13-year-old boy," Jamison-Dunn said. "The violence isn't exclusive to Austin or the rest of the city."

Officer Michelle Tannehill, a Chicago Police spokeswoman, said Monday that no one is in custody for the shooting. 

Norma Johnston, who heard the gunshots from her mother's apartment building on the next block over, said Monday that the street was still reeling from the shooting.

"That is the most sad part about it. A kid who was trying to stop the violence gets shot," said Johnston. "We're used to it. The violence in the streets needs to stop. He [Zarriel] should be worried about school. Not the streets."

"It's sad that these days you come out outside with your friends and get shot."

Monica Dawson, who lives in an apartment building two doors down from where Zuriel was shot, said she heard the shots and saw Zarriel lying in the street.

"This is terrible. That could've been my kids. They come out here to play. I wouldn't wish this on anybody," Dawson said. "A child was laying in the street."

Johnston, as she kept watch on her daughter who walked down the street near where Zarriel was shot, said the blame being put on the police is misplaced.

"Everyone talks about the police but what are we going do? What are we as a community going to do to protect ourselves?" Johnston asked. "It's us who need to make a change."

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