Gun violence among D.C’s Black community is still on the rise. In 2014, more than half of the homicide perpetrators in the impoverished South East D.C were young Black men. The perilous fact reflects the premise that Black lives who become the victims also matter, even when the perpetrators are civilians with the same race and skin color. A mother and gun control activist, Cynthia Dawkins reveals her story.

Podcast Script:


(Anchor_”Just days after attending the March of Washington Planning Meeting, Timothy Dawkins was gunned down in South East Washington neighborhood. He is 24 years old, well-known in the community, tonight neighborhood said it’s getting dangerous outside their doors…”)


My name is Cynthia Dawkins. I am a substitute teacher slash community activist. Timothy was my youngest child. On August 21st, 2013, someone took my son’s life. Unfortunately, he was caught up in a crossfire on his way home, and they started to shooting, and Tim got caught up in it. One gun shot took him away.

I just got home from work. My phone rang and I answered, and my son, Tim’s brother said ‘mom, it was some gun shot  at 4th street, and I think Tim is dead.’ I said, ‘Michael, c’mon stop (laugh), Timothy not… no.

Somebody dropped me over the air, it ’s only a couple of blocks from where I was, which just seemed like it took forever. The traffic was being detoured. So, I couldn’t wait… I hopped off the car and I ran into a block and a half to the crime scene.

I saw two police officers, they had already had taped off. I asked them, ‘did somebody loose their life just over there?’, and they said, ya, they think so. I said, ‘could you tell me was it a male, a man, or.. could you tell me anything about it?’ I said, ‘can I go over there? I think my son might get hit.’ He said, ‘no ma’am you can’t go over there.’

I said, ‘well, could you tell me what he looked like? Did he have dreads, was he brown skin, maybe  about my complexion, how tall was he?’ All the thing I was saying, he was like..ya…But I still can’t believe, that wasn’t enough, there were lots of boys who looked like that, who wear dreads, who were brown skins, who was about my son’s age, that wasn’t enough for me. I still couldn’t accept it.

So I saw his father, walking up the street, I stopped talking to the police officer, I ran across the street, ‘Is that Timothy over there, please tell me, Doug, is that our son over there, he said, I am not sure, but he looked like Timothy’s legs, all I could see was his legs. I said, ‘you saw legs and it was like Timothy’s? I was getting upset, don’t tell me stuff like that! Don’t claim that’s my child over there! I went back to the police officer, and said ‘please sir, was the boy looked like me? When I said that, the police officer looked me in my eye and he didn’t say anything. He just got quiet.

ATMO_Police Car Sirene on the street of SE DC area


It’s only 48 hours after it happened, they caught them and he stayed (incarcerated) from that day until we met at the court. As far as I am concerned, he is a victim of poverty, he is a victim of maybe being born in a wrong color, being born in a wrong family, a victim of his community.

He’s still locked up. Unfortunately, he’ll be home on May 26 of this year.  He only served for 17 months. He was charged for having an illegal weapon, not for my son’s life. I felt like when they read the verdict of ‘not guilty’, I felt like they had killed my son again. My son didn’t have justice, my son didn’t deserve to be gunned down the way he was.

(ATMO_Family chattering at Dawkin’s house)


When Timothy lost his life, I wanna to die. I felt that a part of me died. And then I had to remember my grandson, who looks just like him. He told me, he misses his dad, ‘where is my daddy’. He doesn’t understand why everybody has fathers and he doesn’t.

(ATMO_Youtube_Sounds of Timothy’s recording singing Frank Sinatra’s songs) 

He was a singer, he sang to us in a regular basis, his favorite was Frank Sinatra. We don’t hear his beautiful voice anymore.

I wanted other people to know that Timothy, all because he lived in a poor community, and all because he may have been hanging with some people might call a thug, didn’t necessarily mean he was one.

Every day is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him, I don’t do something for him and his honor. I am trying to create something that keeps his spirit alive. That is why I am doing what I do today, fighting for gun laws…

(ATMO_Moms Demand Action gathering_Dawkins invites the attendees to come to the “Making A Killing: Guns, Greed, and The NRA” movie screening, a documentary movie about gun violence across the country)


Guns are easily accessible to our community, you found more of our people killing one another, people are angry, people are hurt, we have a lot of mental health issues in our community.


I feel it’s important to fight for stricter gun laws because too many children and adults American citizens together are to die for senseless murder. It’s been said that 91 Americans die every day because of gun violence.

(ATMO_children playing, people talking on the street of SE DC)


I do believe if there were stricter gun laws and if it was more difficult and challenging for a person to purchase a gun, it wouldn’t be easy to this man to buy a gun and kill my son.

I am not gonna stop fighting for gun sense laws, I will never stop fighting. You should be able to be comfortable being anywhere in America. But, as it stands, you could be at a restaurant, a school, a bank, your home, and get murdered. And, that needs to change. I am not gonna shut up and sit down about that.

(ATMO_Youtube_Sounds of Timothy’s recording singing Frank Sinatra’s songs)