Blair Holt was shot and killed while he shielded another classmate from the bullets a gunman sprayed on a CTA bus in Chicago in 2007. His father is a police officer and his mother is a fire department chief, and that’s what they had taught him to do.
Earlier this month, a mannequin modeled after Holt’s height and weight, which was clothed in items his mother had saved, stood at the St. James Cathedral plaza in Chicago. From the light gray hooded jacket down to his Nikes with a bright orange swoosh, the structure nailed Holt’s signature style.
Everything, but the victim’s face -- which was decidedly left blank.
The mannequin was one of eight erected in an art installation created by the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, an advocacy group that’s working to get illegal guns off the streets. The group’s “Unforgotten” campaign, which will travel throughout the state, hopes to get more supporters involved in its mission by enabling gun violence victims to tell their stories.
“It is a reminder of who Blair was as a teenager and as a young man and how he carried himself,” Chicago police Cmdr. Ron Holt told Red Eye Chicago of the mannequin fashioned after his deceased son. “He was a young man of promise and hope."
Ever year, nearly 1,000 residents in Illinois alone lose their lives to guns.
The council is working to reduce gun violence by educating the public and advocating for legislative goals, among other pursuits.
Currently, the nonprofit is urging supporters to sign a petition that pushes for obligatory background checks on all gun sales, requiring state licenses for gun dealers and giving families the power to remove guns from people in crisis.
“I’m trying to make the world a little better for others, so other kids and families don’t have to go through this,” Tom VandenBerk, who’s son was killed in 1992 in a shootout, said in the group’s PSA. “That’s something I feel I have to do.”
Find out more about the Illinois Council Against Gun Violence and how you can get involved here.