Key West dedicates benches to lost youths

Twelve benches at Nelson English Park in Bahama Village have been dedicated to loved ones killed by violence.

“It is our duty to ensure no child gets lost. These children had names. These children had loved ones who still think of them daily. We’ll continue to celebrate their lives and not how they passed,” parent Phyllis Jackson told a crowd of about 200 people Saturday at Nelson English Park in Key West’s Bahama Village neighborhood.

The event was held to honor the lives of 12 young Key Westers who lost their lives to violence, either in Key West or elsewhere. Organized by a new group of which no one wants to become a member, Grieving Families of Youth Violence. 

“None of these parents wanted to be a member of this club,” Jackson said following the dedication of 12 park benches now adorned with plaques honoring lives that ended too soon.

The names and lives honored are as follows, although some plaques are still being created and installed:  Jeannette Laray Clark, Daniel Lamont Thompson, Gwendolyn Louise Smith,  Tennille Antonette Richardson,  Trevon Dondre Albury,  Marques Eugene Butler,  Donté Lamont Chapman,  Creighton Kendall Miller,  Cpl. Don Michael Staffney, Jr., Gerald Dean Waldon, Shammika Lashay McDowell, Jossue Emmanuel Gomez.

If you would like to have the Weekly delivered to your mailbox or inbox along with our daily news blast, please subscribe here.

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.