Two days before he was to celebrate Christmas with his two young daughters, Tyshaun Turner, an alumnus of Latin American Youth Center’s River Corps program, was murdered shortly after coming home from his job with New Columbia Solar. River Corps staff, graduates, and I learned about Tyshaun’s passing later that night. His death, the 163rd homicide in the DC of 2019, marks a tipping point for the area.
Those involved with River Corps had developed a deep bond with Tyshaun. He was a natural leader and played a key role in keeping the days fun and lighthearted. He had a way of balancing the hard work that comes with ‘greening’ our city and making all of us just glad to enjoy one another’s company. After graduating from River Corps, a 5-month environmental workforce training program that serves 18-24-year-old District residents, he used his skills and passion to obtain a job in solar installation, a position he held for the past two years. I called Tyshaun a few weeks ago to see how things were going. Amidst many laughs, he shared that he enjoyed the work but sought more opportunity to build upon his profession and ease the financial burden of supporting his two girls.
Tyshaun cared deeply about resolving the crisis of poverty and the violence he felt it caused. He was a truth-teller who saw others putting money over people and envisioned a solution that required an intervention large enough to put whole communities to work. During his time with River Corps, Tyshaun took on a leadership role in solving another crisis, climate change. He gave interviews with several blogs and spoke at one of the local climate events prior to the Climate March of 2016. While employed in the solar industry he testified before the council about the need to expand renewable energy, and helped to pass the Clean Energy DC Act. He was aware of the seriousness of poverty and climate change; he believed in the need to provide a pathway for success and the need for humans to live in symbiosis with nature. In a blog post he wrote before graduating River Corps he stated that “we need to remember that we are just animals, and we too are only here for a short period of time. We are meant to be in a symbiotic relationship with nature — not separating ourselves from it.”
He only saw us overcoming the climate and violence crisis if we were able to be honest with ourselves, look past differences, and take care of one another. He stated, “While there are divisions among humans, the climate doesn’t care what color you are. The only question is: can you survive? Can your children?” This did not make him blind to the impacts disproportionately felt by low-income people of color. This is why he felt the political fight needed to be led by youth. He stated that “youth will not listen unless they see a future in our environmental organizing. Part of how we do that is by engaging young people in the green economy beginning in traditional school.”
Tyshaun supported efforts like the Green New Deal and saw this investment as a large part of the solution for the crime he grew up around. He worked for its cause because he wanted the world to look different for himself, his daughters and his community. As a mentor and cheerleader of his life I want him to be remembered for what he did and what he believed in, as each victim of gun violence deserves. I also want his family and friends to know how many he impacted around him by being a great father, lover of life and seeker of a just society.
Thank you Tyshaun, for giving us your gifts.
-Adam Angel, Deputy Director of LAYC’s DC-based River Corps and Montgomery County programs