'A sense of hope': Ypsilanti teen helps create mural to honor murder victims

A mural in downtown Ypsilanti includes names of murder victims in remembrance of lives lost early.

"These people are actually loved by the community. Ain’t no neglect because they’ve been killed or slain by someone," DeShawn Chambers said.

The 16-year-old artist helped craft the mural.

"It feels good. It brings me some type of closure knowing that some of my closest friends’ names are up here, and they’re not being forgotten," he said.

Gail Wolkoff, with Educate Youth Ypsi, said she is proud to see what one of her students is doing. 

"It’s over the top as far as pride goes because this young man, he’s very humble," she said.

It all started eight months ago.

"The police department came out there, crime intervention, they had access to talk to the youth, and stuff like that, to come up with ideas to stop violence in our community," Chambers said. "The very next day, I came up with a rose. Me not knowing that my rose would get recognition."

It's a conversation starter that people hope will lead to change.

"Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end of gun violence. Of course, this mural is art. It’s beautiful. Art can be interpreted many ways, but there are some very important things we wanted to get across with this," said Jamall Bufford, with Washtenaw My Brother's Keeper.

On Nov. 12, the mural will be unveiled to the community, including the families of murder victims.

"I do love the fact that he’s getting some exposure, which gives our community a sense of hope. A different way to create and generate some real value," said artist and consultant Curtis Wallace.