Iowa BIG students hoping to find solutions to gun violence through documentary

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 6:26 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - For loved ones, the lives lost to gun violence are more than just names or numbers. Their stories were shared in a documentary put together by Iowa BIG students, Kayla Brown, Sadie Rebman and Callie Brown.

”I met a close friend of mine, and he actually lost someone to gun violence and so that’s kind of how I learned about it,” said Callie Brown.

Cedar Rapids had seven homicides in 2019. That number doubled to 12 last year. So far in 2021, there have been six homicide victims.

“I saw a lot of people that I knew partaking in that type of activity and it’s concerning to me,” said Kayla Brown.

The documentary features law enforcement, those working to combat violence, and the stories of four victims: Keyshawn Allers, Marissa Doolin, Royal Abrams and Andrew Gaston.

“You hear the names, but you don’t hear a lot of stories,” said Rebman. “One story that stuck out to me was the story of Keyshawn Allers. We talked to his sister and his cousin, and they told us their favorite memories and how she still talks to him.”

The students say more young voices need to be talking about this.

“I think it helps because people get to see that they’re just like their kids,” Callie said. “You’re able to connect to it more, then want to make a difference.”

Alphonce O’ Bannon works with at-risk youth to provide opportunities through LBA Foundation. He’s seen its impact first-hand.

“It has impacted me over the years with the LBA students being involved in gun violence on both sides of it. When I saw both sides of it, I mean some that are in the cemetery, some that are in the prison, and some that are able to get away from it,” O’Bannon said.

The documentary outlines solutions to address the issue of violence.

“It’s clear we don’t have a strong voice in this,” O’Bannon said. “We need more people out here. That’s why this video is important.”

However, the students say the work doesn’t stop here.

“It’s not going anywhere without everyone’s help,” Kayla said.

“This video was meant to share with the community and inspire. This is just the beginning,” Callie said.

People can watch the full documentary here.

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