It’s been 10 years since college student Brenton Smith was killed by police and his grief-stricken family continues to honor his memory.
A collection of artists will pay tribute to him and bring awareness to police-involved shootings at “The Brenton Story: Through Our Eyes” that opens at the Central Bank Art Gallery at 6 p.m. today.
Smith, who dreamed of becoming an engineer, was fatally shot by police while walking near the City Market food store on Village Road on July 9, 2009.
Police were reportedly in pursuit of two men responsible for an armed robbery at the grocery store when Officer Kelsie Munroe killed the unarmed teenager, who was walking with a friend.
Ironically, Brenton was passionate about addressing violent encounters that his peers had with police, according to his grandmother, Shirley Smith.
She recalled, “From Brenton was very young, he said, ‘Mummy, we have to do something. The police are abusing and killing our young men.’
“It’s ironic that he died by a police bullet.”
Though the pain is still palpable a decade since his death, the family copes by following a template that Brenton left, his father, Hector Smith Jr., told The Nassau Guardian.
He said that it was important for youth to know that their lives have “value”.
Since Brenton’s death, other men have been killed in police shootings.
Smith said, “We feel the pain for the other families and the hopelessness.”
The Smiths were offended that the crime report following the shooting suggested that Brenton was involved in the robbery. Police eventually said that Brenton was not a suspect in the armed robbery.
Smith said, “His name was very important. There was no reason to go ahead and defame his name. They continued to say negative and hurtful things and that is why we fight.”
His voice breaking, Smith continued, “You go and throw mud on him, now I gotta clean it up. And I keep cleaning it up until the day I die.”
Artist Timothy Nottage, who coordinated the exhibit, said that he was approached 10 years ago to design artwork that told Brenton’s story.
The collection will remain on display at the Central Bank until August 30 before it is displayed at the University of The Bahamas in September.