Keeper of memories: Campbell search organizer known for memorializing missing youth
on September 4, 2009
Those who die on Oakland’s toughest avenues may get little more than a brief mention in local papers or on the nightly news, but their memories live on at Sherri-Lyn Miller’s print shop on East 14th Street in San Leandro, just blocks away from the Bayfair Center shopping mall.
Miller’s custom-made T-Shirts and jackets tell life stories that people can wear, and her shop, All In One Stop, which is filled with the scent of hot screen printing ink, has become a sanctuary for people mourning loved ones lost to natural deaths as well as to violence.
“They’re passed away, but we want their memories to be here with us still,” said Carl Pellette, 23, who visited Miller’s shop on Friday to pick up a memorial T-Shirt for the funeral of his grandfather, Wallace Pellette.
Now Miller is working to keep the public aware of another person missed by friends and family—five-year-old Hassani Campbell, who was in the care of his Fremont foster parents Louis Ross and Jennifer Campbell when he vanished sometime around August 10. Last week the Oakland Police Department arrested Ross and Campbell on suspicion of murder, but the Alameda County District Attorney’s office declined to press charges and the two were released.
Miller is organizing a dive at Lake Elizabeth in Fremont to search for the boy. The dive, which will begin Saturday at 9 a.m., will involve the volunteer organization San Jose Search and Rescue, as well as residents from throughout the area. “It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to find a child,” said Miller, 40.
Since Campbell vanished, Miller’s print shop has become a headquarters for his search effort. What she initially envisioned as a campaign of “find Hassani” T-Shirts, missing persons posters and fundraisers has morphed into a larger search. She’s been assisted by Courtney Tascoe-Burris, 23, the daughter of Oakland attorney John Burris, who is working as an advisor to Ross and Campbell.
“Even if Hasanni is no longer with us, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve to come back for a proper burial,” said Tascoe-Burris, who Miller says she met at a vigil for Campbell.
Tascoe-Burris may try to organize searches in Oakland parks as well. “We think that everywhere needs to be searched,” she said.
As of Friday evening it was unclear whether the Oakland Police Department or Alameda County Sheriff’s Department will participate in the lake dive; officials could not be reached for comment. The Fremont Police Department will not participate, according to Lieutenant Mark Devine. “This is an Oakland case,” said Devine, declining further comment.
Miller, who also printed shirts to aid the search for missing eight-year-old Sandra Cantu of Tracy, said she is not “taking sides” in the Campbell case, which has often been portrayed as a showdown between the missing boy’s foster parents and the Oakland Police Department.
A wall in the print shop displays a shirt that Miller created to honor the four Oakland police officers shot in March by parolee Lovelle Mixon.
“I’m just trying to find this boy,” said Miller, who hopes to start a nonprofit group to combat youth violence.
Miller believes this missing child case is an example of a culture that has lost its ability to care for children. “For them to be losing their lives out here, whether they’re kidnapped, whether they’re murdered, whether they’re beaten to death, it’s a tragedy,” said Miller.
The Oakland Police Department Crime Stoppers reward for finding Campbell now stands at $60,000 after a $25,0000 contribution by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Lake Elizabeth, the site of the dive, is located at 400000 Paseo Parkway Drive in Fremont.
Miller can be reached at (510) 276-9090. Anyone with information regarding Campbell can call the Oakland Police Department at (510) 777-8572 or (510) 777-3211.
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