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The Victims Behind the ‘Mothers of the Movement’

A look at the children whose deaths inspired their mothers to action

Hillary Clinton greets Sybrina Fulton, center, the mother of Trayvon Martin, after a campaign event in Cleveland in April. (Courtesy Hillary Clinton Facebook page)
Hillary Clinton greets Sybrina Fulton, center, the mother of Trayvon Martin, after a campaign event in Cleveland in April. (Courtesy Hillary Clinton Facebook page)

Women who all lost children to gun violence or in confrontations with the police took the stage Tuesday night at the Democratic convention.  

The “Mothers of the Movement” have endorsed and campaigned for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who often introduces them at campaign events as “a group of mothers who belong to a club no one ever wants to join.”  

Here is the look at the children whose deaths inspired their mothers to turn their grief into political action.

Blair Holt

Mother: Annette Nance-Holt  

In May 2007, Blair Holt, a 16-year-old honor student, was riding home from school when a teenage gunman stormed a Chicago public bus and opened fire. Holt, an only child, was not the target of the attack but was shot in the abdomen and died shielding a friend from the attack. The killer was later sentenced to 100 years in prison but an appeals court ordered a new sentencing hearing last year.

Oscar Grant

Mother: Wanda Johnson  

In the early hours of New Year’s Day 2009, Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old grocery store butcher, was detained on a BART train station platform in Oakland, California. Handcuffed and pinned to the ground, the unarmed Grant was fatally shot in the back by a BART police officer. The officer was fired and later convicted of involuntary manslaughter, after admitting he meant to fire his Taser and not his gun.

Trayvon Martin

Mother: Sybrina Fulton  

In February 2012, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old high school student, was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, in a gated community where Martin lived at the time. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, said he acted in self-defense. Martin was unarmed during the altercation. Charged with murder, Zimmerman was later acquitted, triggering a national outcry.

Jordan Davis

Mother: Lucy McBath  

In November 2012, 17-year-old Jordan Davis, a high school student, was with his friends in the parking lot of a convenience store in Jacksonville, Florida, when a man complaining about the loud music from their car opened fire on the unarmed teenagers. Davis died after being struck three times. The gunman, Michael Dunn, was later convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Hadiya Pendleton

Mother: Cleopatra Pendleton-Cowley  

In January 2013, 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot in the back and killed at a park in Kenwood, Illinois. Two gang members were arrested and later indicted on multiple charges including first degree murder. Pendleton was hanging out with her friends after taking her final exams, and the group was mistaken for members of a rival gang. She had just performed at events for President Barack Obama’s inauguration a week earlier.

Dontre Hamilton

Mother: Maria Hamilton  

In April 2014, Dontre Hamilton was fatally shot in a Milwaukee park by a police officer. Hamilton who had received treatment for schizophrenia was was unarmed. No charges were filed against the officer who was found to have acted in self-defense. But the officer was fired for not following proper protocol. Following the shooting, the Hamilton family worked with the city to ensure all officers received Crisis Intervention Team training.

Eric Garner

Mother: Gwen Carr  

In July 2014, Eric Garner, 43, died after being held in an extended chokehold by a Staten Island, New York, police officer, despite his repeated protestations: “I can’t breathe.” Garner was targeted for illegally selling cigarettes. He lost consciousness and was later pronounced dead at the hospital. A grand jury declined to indict the police officer, sparking protests and rallies across the country to protest police actions.

Michael Brown

Mother: Lezley McSpadden  

In August 2014, a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown after responding to reports of a convenience store robbery. The shooting drew nationwide attention and led to protests and demonstrations in the St. Louis suburb and across the country. A grand jury later decided not to indict the police officer, a decision that triggered riots and unrest in Ferguson.

Sandra Bland

Mother: Geneva Reed-Veal  

Pulled over for a minor traffic violation in Prairie View, Texas, in July 2015, 28-year-old Sandra Bland was arrested and jailed after a heated argument with a state trooper. She was charged with assault of a public servant. Bland was found hanged in her jail cell three days later. Her death was ruled a suicide. The state trooper was later fired after being indicted for lying about the incident.

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