ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A mom is turning tragedy into peace, after her son was shot and killed by police earlier last month. Timothy Flowers died after a lengthy pursuit with police. Officers say he allegedly opened fire after they tried to take him into custody.
“It was devastating,” Flowers’ mother, Telena Banks said.
“As a mother who has been attempting to assist my son out of his current mindset and him wanting to do things differently and taking the steps to change, and being in constant situations where he needed to feel as if he had to survive,” Banks said. “We want our kids to survive and so trying to give him the resources to help him change his mindset, it was hard.”
Banks is currently working to honor not only her son, but others who have died to violence.
Banks has started the Flowers Initiative, which she named after her son. She will be planting flowers around the City of Rochester at places where violence or shootings have occurred.
“I want my community to be full of brightness, smiles, laughter, kids playing and how can I begin that when a lot of these places have liquor bottles, no grass, dirt,” Banks said. “I just want to give them to the people in my neighborhood and start teaching people what positive affirmations are, to give positive affirmations to each other, it starts with us.”
Banks says she is trying to focus on moving forward and she hopes by filling the city with flowers, she will be able to do just that.
“I don’t want to stay in darkness, do I have my dark days? I do. But I know that in order for things to change, it has to start with me,” Banks said. “It makes me feel better. It makes me feel good. I don’t want to be in depression because that is hard to come out of and I have been there.”
Banks has been communicating with other local families who have lost loved ones. She says while memorials with balloons and candles are thoughtful, she believes these flowers will make the city more beautiful.
“I don’t want to further traumatize a community where people actually still have to live,” Banks said. “Not that we don’t want to show love to the people that have passed, but we want to make it beautiful. Flowers, grass, whatever that needs.”
Timothy had two kids and Banks said her purpose is to now make the city better for them.
“My grandkids have to live there, they have to grow up there, how can I make Tim’s legacy, make it safer for them, because really, that is all he cared about and that is what he was fighting for: his kids.”
Banks’ strength and love for others has inspired many people, but the mother of four says she’s always been a fighter.
“It’s all I know how to do. It’s just who I have always been, even in my dark times, I have always been a helper. I have a past, I have a history, I am not an angel by far, but in that I have always challenged myself to kind of do wrong, right.”
To help with her mission, organizations have stepped forward to donate flowers for Banks to plant. J&A Farm Market in Avon and The Mission Hope donated flowers.
“We ask God to grant us our blessings and then we just wait on them, but there needs to be action behind it and it was just such a blessing,” Banks said.
Banks is also calling on the community to do its part to help make the city a more peaceful place.
“It needs to be more of us in the community helping our community. We can’t wait for the politicians and the other people to come in and do because they are going to do it their way,” Banks said. “If you have an idea of what you want your community to look like, then that is something that you should be part of.”
On July 11th, Banks and her support group will be planting the flowers across the city. She hopes after starting this initiative in Rochester, she can expand it to other cities where violence is high.