For months, resident Betty Taylor has placed her signs protesting gun violence in the Federal Way City Council Chambers and taken to the podium to speak about her grandson, Ezra.
Ezra Nehemiah Taylor, 26, was one of three people fatally shot outside of La Familia Sports Pub and Lounge in Des Moines on Sept. 26, 2021 after a dispute inside the bar spilled into the parking lot. The additional victims were identified as Antoine Matthews, 32, and Angelia Hylton, 46.
On Tuesday, June 7 the Federal Way City Council made a proclamation designating the first Friday in June as National Gun Violence Awareness Day (June 3). The proclamation honors Ezra and all Americans whose lives are impacted by gun violence.
This time at the podium, Betty was joined by her daughter and Ezra’s mother, Selena.
“He was a wonderful man and this day — National Gun Violence Awareness — is a day where we change lives for the better. In the midst of our pain, I know that there’s purpose,” Selena Taylor said.
The city’s proclamation, read by Councilmember Hoang Tran, is “to honor and remember all victims and survivors of gun violence” and “declares that we as a country must do more to reduce gun violence.”
The proclamation states Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed with guns than people in other developed countries. it states “support for the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns away from dangerous people.”
Family members of the Taylor family and their pastor gathered to accept the council’s proclamation on June 7.
When he was born, Selena Taylor said Ezra lost oxygen and doctors told her that he may never talk or talk. But he did.
He walked across the stage of his high school graduation. He enrolled in New York Film Academy to become an actor and had just completed his movie, Selena Taylor said. He also had a clothing line dubbed “Keep It E-Z.”
Grieving the loss of her son has motivated her to advocate for change, so long as she doesn’t get lost in the grief, she said.
“For us, we love unconditionally. We don’t hate. We love,” she told the council and audience on June 7. “We’re going to continue to love, we’re going to continue to do the things that Ezra would want us to do.
Ezra would want them to continue to be empowered and love the community that’s hurting, she said.
In the wake of his death, family members created Ezra’s Hands Outreach to provide mentorship in the community, visiting schools and providing resources to families impacted by gun violence, Selena Taylor said.
Change may happen slowly, or by reaching a single person.
“If it’s one person at a time, we did our job,” Selena Taylor said.