They come to put their dead relatives and friends on a T-shirt.
A young woman clutches a photo of her murdered 16-year-old brother. He grins at the camera, his right hand clutching a gun. Three young men line up to pay homage to one of their friends, a “street soldier,” with his Facebook profile picture.
Here at Studio X, inside the U.S.A. Flea Market, miles away from South Beach in a gritty pocket of Liberty City, is where black Miami’s killed are memorialized. Pictures of the deceased are stamped onto plaques and necklace charms, but a majority of customers come to put a picture on a T-shirt.
For the bereaved who robe themselves in these memorial shirts, the act is a public expression of their loss. It is a ritual they turn to in their time of grief. It is a testimony of a life prematurely taken by violence in neighborhoods where these killings don’t always make the news cycle.
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