Photo: Illustration of Zoe Moore, art by Shanee Benjamin
In January 2010, I was at the Georgetown Community Center where there were two women asking people to sign a petition to stop people with serious mental illnesses from being granted a permit to carry a gun. I had just experienced the death of my daughter, Dana Harvey. She was mentally ill and died by gun suicide. I signed that petition, but I didn’t actually tell my story for years.
It wasn’t until Charleena Lyles was shot and killed by police that I stepped out on faith and brought Moms Demand Action to my community of Columbia City, in the South End of Seattle, Washington.
Listening to Charleena’s 911 call was devastating, because I realized how much she sounded like my own daughter. Charleena was mentally ill, like my daughter. She called the police for assistance saying someone was breaking into her house. She had four children at home and she was pregnant with her sixth child. After her death, I knew I had to be a part of Moms Demand Action.
I used to think being a survivor meant you were shot yourself, but the people I met through Moms Demand Action and the Everytown Survivor Network helped me understand what being a survivor actually means. The reality is that gun violence in any form — whether you’re a witness to it, are threatened or wounded with a gun, or had someone you know or care for wounded or killed — leaves a lasting impact on individuals. This is just another way that I’ve survived. I’ve been taking care of myself ever since I was 7 years old, and taking care of my sisters, because I was the oldest. I’ve been a survivor all my life — I’m still surviving.
It’ll be a year since I stepped out on faith and brought this newfound understanding to my community to show that there are people who really care for life, specifically when it comes to people of color. I pray and look for more ways to bring hope and understanding to my community that is less safe. I’ve seen and heard the power of our children speaking on how gun violence impacts their communities versus the tragedies that make national headlines. Everyone’s story is devastating, but their stories are crucial to understanding the problems and creating solutions.
I’ve attended Moms Demand Action meetings in other parts of the city, and they’re nothing like the meetings in the South End because of the intensity of the gun violence in our area. But I know that bringing Moms Demand Action to my community also brought hope. If we unite as a movement and go forth, not sideways, not leftways, but straight ahead, we’ll get this victory. We’ll win this fight to end gun violence.
Zoe Moore is a gun violence survivor and Moms Demand Action volunteer in Seattle, Washington.