This is the story felt around the world. Lesandro (Junior) Guzman-Feliz, age 15, was savagely murdered in the Bronx on June 20, 2018. He was brutally attacked by gang members with knives and machetes.

Sidebar: Do you know what type of monster you are if you can look another human in his eyes and feel the warmth of life as you take a knife, wield it into another person, and watch life seep from their body?

I’m ecstatic his murderers were caught. Without a doubt, each of them will spend their lives in prison. The “South Bronx” in me claps because I know what’s about to happen to them in Sing-Sing and it’s well deserved. The mom in me feels bad for their mothers because a life sentence for your children must feel like death to someone who carried a baby for nine months, went through delivery and sacrificed everyday so your children could get through this crazy thing called life. How low do you feel knowing with all your efforts, you birthed and raised monsters?

Everything about Junior’s death is tragic. It’s tragic that gangs still exist with all the knowledge and opportunity out there. It’s tragic that a young man with his whole future ahead of him lost his life due to mistaken identity and violence. It’s tragic that a mother lost her son.

Part of this story feels personal for me. I read posts from my friend Laura, an educator from the Bronx who knew Junior. I read her words and with every post, I die a little inside.

“There are videos all over the internet…please don’t repost it because he was human.”

And she’s unequivocally right. How did we get here? How does a young man run for safety inside of a bodega filled with people and people pick up a phone and record instead of calling the police? You know how we know there were people who didn’t call the police? You can’t record and call the police at the same time. There are so many videos going around which means each of those people made a decision to record a young boy’s death instead of calling the police. Is this America?

“If you want to do good in this world today, you will report the pictures of Lesandro’s body in a casket.” 

It’s baffling that someone would add insult to injury by paying respects to someone while violating them at the same time. Is nothing sacred anymore?

I look at boys like Junior and can’t help but to think of my brothers. And son. To be honest, some of my male relatives are less like Junior and more like his murderers which is why I understand why some people make it in life, and some don’t. The Bronx is crazy. It’s not as bad as Chicago, but it used to be before gentrification.

If you remember anything about Junior, remember this. He was a great kid. He was a tenth grader and he loved school. He participated in a police club for youth interested in law enforcement. He was a son. A brother. He had his whole life ahead of him and he is sorely missed. Above all, he was human. He deserves the dignity of respect in life and in death.

Thank you Cardi B, Lala and Carmelo Anthony for stepping up and shining a light on this tragedy and for having a human reaction to such a personal tragedy.

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