T-shirts held on rods formed in the shape of a cross are set up in two rows in front of First Presbyterian Church, Davenport.
This is Memorial to the Lost, a project from the Heeding God's Call to End Gun Violence organization in Philadelphia, Pa. It is posted at the historic Presbyterian church, 1702 Iowa St., and will be in at least three other churches in the next several weeks in the Hilltop Campus Village,
The Rev. Richard Miller of First Presbyterian organized the memorial, and he talks about his concerns on the random violence because of guns in the United States, as well as the many Americans who are resigned to the situation.
This was brought home, Miller said, after the Dec. 14, 2012, incident in which 26 people, including 20 children ages 6-7 years old, died in a mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. That event impacted no meaningful change in legislation concerning guns, and who owns them, he said.
The innocent bystanders killed by gunfire number 19 in Scott County in the past three years, according to Miller. These names were provided by the county medical examiner from publicly available death certificates.
The youngest person on the list is Ayana Culbreath, who was killed June 26, 2016, when she was 15 years old. Ayana was in her yard when she was shot, Miller said.
Trevor D. Owens, 18, and Kamario C. Hill, 15, were slated to be tried Sept. 18 in the Culbreath case, but that trial has been delayed to Dec. 11.
The oldest person on the church's list is Mark Jasper, who was 64 years old when he died on Jan. 7.
His wife, 52-year-old Shiela Jo Jasper, is charged with the crime and has been ordered for a psychiatric evaluation at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale.
First Baptist Church, Davenport, will host the memorial in October.
"We aren't satisfied with the way things have been going, so we are offering a way to have a better living environment, as well as better place to worship," the Rev. Ralph Kelly said.
Kelly, community minister at First Baptist, said it's the responsibility of the faith community to point out alternatives when things are going wrong as well as when they are going right.
"These are our children, and our neighbors," he said of the victims.
Each T-shirt in the display represents a person who was killed in the past three years. Miller said that time period was chosen because First Presbyterian has been hosting prayer vigils on the subject since 2014.
The shirts display the name, age and date of death of each victim.
People struggle to understand the deaths, Miller said, but might find the shirts to be a clear way to honor the dead. "These deaths are so senseless; they do not need to happen," he said.
One important point to be made: The churches will unite to assure survivors that their loved ones have not been forgotten.
The rows of T-shirts are accompanied by handouts to explain the memorial. It's on public view, in Davenport along both Iowa Street and Kirkwood Boulevard, where people walking, driving or biking past can see it, and be reminded of the violence and death.
The partnership with Heeding God's Call to End Gun Violence is a welcome one, according to Miller. The organization began in Philadelphia during a period when the was extreme gun violence in the City of Brotherly Love.
This memorial will raise awareness of the issue in the community.
"Nineteen deaths of innocent victims is 19 too many," Miller said.