James Island resident Lizz O’Neill never dreamed that a photo illustration she designed and posted on Facebook comparing the Trayvon Martin case with a local teen’s shooting death would go viral.
But that’s what happened.
“I was shocked, completely shocked. When I made this picture, I never intended for it to become this big,” O’Neill said. “Before yesterday almost no one outside of the Charleston area knew who Marley was. Now people across the nation know his name and are hearing his story.”
The photo shows pictures of Martin and Marley Lion, 17, a white Academic Magnet High School graduate who was shot to death in his car last summer. Both teenagers are smiling in their photos.
In white and black typeface, the photo illustration says the Martin case “made national news and was recognized by the president and countless celebrities,” while the Lion case “never made it past the local news.”
The photo, posted Monday afternoon, has been circulated across the Internet, including Facebook and Twitter, and, on Tuesday afternoon, O’Neill estimated at least 900,000 people “liked” the photo since she posted it.
Lion was shot multiple times and killed inside his car after a botched robbery attempt on June 16, 2012, according to authorities.
At the time, he was sleeping in his car after drinking too much at a party, police said.
Three black men, Julius Brown, 32; Bryan Rivers, 28; and Ryan Deleston, 31, have been charged with murder.
“I wanted to make the point that lives are lost every day. Some are nationally recognized and some never make it past the local news,” said O’Neill, 22, a stay-at-home mom. “Every life, in my opinion, deserves the same recognition despite race or circumstances.
“The reason why I chose Marley in particular was not because he was a white boy killed by a black man as so many are trying to make it seem. I used his story because it hits close to home.”
O’Neill, who is white, said she briefly worked with Lion at Home Team BBQ.
Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott said Lion and Martin deserve justice for their deaths.
“We’re talking about the life of these people. None of these guys were doing anything to deserve somebody coming to kill them,” Scott said.
Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.