Azim Khamisa’s 20-‐year-‐old son Tariq was shot and killed by Tony Hicks who, at 14, became the first juvenile in California to be tried as an adult. He pled guilty to first-‐ degree murder and received a prison sentence of 25 years to life. Azim has joined with Tony Hicks’s grandfather, Ples Felix, to create the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF), which aims to teach children that they have the ability to choose nonviolent solutions to problems. Azim speaks to numerous audiences throughout the U.S. and has been involved in efforts to stop the expansion of California’s death penalty law.
Azim says, “I’ve found that you have to look beyond the act of the murder to ask, how did this come to happen? How did we as a country get to a place where 14 year olds need to join gangs in order to feel respected and protected? I decided to become the enemy not of my son’s killer but of the forces that put a young boy on a dark street holding a handgun. Tony now writes letters from prison that we use in our programs and that we see having a positive effect on other kids. Think of how many kids he may save. That’s going to bring me a lot more healing than if he had gotten the death penalty.”