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Tariq Khamisa Foundation Supports Parole For Killer

Courtesy of Tariq Khamisa Foundation
Tasreen Khamisa and Azim Khamisa pose for a photo with Tony Hicks, center, in this undated photo.
Tariq Khamisa Foundation Supports Parole For Killer
Tariq Khamisa Foundation Supports Parole For Killer GUEST: Tasreen Khamisa, executive director, Tariq Khamisa Foundation Ples Felix, co-founder, Tariq Khamisa Foundation

I'm Maureen Cavanagh. It's more than a generation ago that the murder of a 20 year old pizza delivery man rocked San Diego because of its callousness its senselessness and the astoundingly young age of the gunman. Tariq Comiso was shot to death while on a pizza delivery road in 1995. His assailant was 14 year old Tony Hicks. Hicks was prosecuted as an adult. Under a new California law at the time and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Since that time we've heard the remarkable story of forgiveness and reconciliation between the Camisa and Hick's families which has resulted in the Tarique camisa Foundation against teenage violence. Now a new chapter opens as Tony Hicks comes up for his first parole hearing and could have a job waiting for him at the Taree camisa Foundation. Joining me is has Reem camisa sister of Tariq and executive director of the Tarique camisa Foundation. Kasserine welcome to the program. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Also here is plez Felix Tony Hicks grandfather and plez welcome to the show. Good morning thank you for having me. Now tell us rain you visited Tony Hicks in prison over the last couple of years. What are those visit's been like. The visits with Tony have been life changing for me my forgiveness journey took a while and it took me 20 years to meet Tony for the first time but after I met him my compassion and my empathy for him only grew stronger and I knew that I would do everything I could to ensure that he is released. It is has the foundation really decided to give Tony Hicks a job if he makes parole. Yes and we need Tony because we know that Tony's story and Tony's journey and Tony's lessons that he has learned over the last 23 years will be the most powerful messages to our kids and that he will help Teekay continue to save the lives of children. Now plez your grandson Tony has been in prison for 22 years now. How have you seen him change. I've watched him grow from a boy. Into a man who was put into prison as a 16 year old kid so I watched his journey from being a very confused angry very remorseful sorry young man and certainly through Azeem and greens and families forgiveness. Tony has been able to develop a sense of his self relative to taking responsibility for what he did whereas as a young boy he was not willing to do that. Not able to do that. But the the gift of forgiveness from the camisa family over time and certainly the love of his and his own family as really supporting his journey in such a way that he has taken proper steps over time not only to improve himself getting his GED while he's in prison. He wants to continue his education. You and Hazari father chose to deal with this tragedy by doing something very positive. Can you tell us about the creation of the Tory camisa foundation and what its continuing mission as the camisa Foundation is a organization that's actually born from a miracle. And the miracle was the forgiveness that Xim camisa extended to my grandson for murdering his one and only son that miracle resulted in a Zemes will to see to it that other children in our communities are not so affected by helping adults teachers administrators counselors people in school have contact with kids. Parents understand that our children are confronted every day with decision making that ofttimes is beyond their ability to do in a way that's positive. So the foundation is really focused in seeing to it that we support our kids our kids walk around her everyday a lot of fear. A lot of bullying going on. So we are now confronted in the 21st century where we have the highest rate of children suicide that we've ever had. And TKL understands by going into schools and being in touch with kids where they are every day and certainly encouraging them to has and you've lived with the story of your brother's murder for most of your life what has that been like. It was very hard for me the first few years. I was very angry. I was very resentful. It was hard to just function. I missed my brother so much and I was just I think I kept all that anger inside and I just didn't like who I was. And my father's act of forgiveness. And my father starting the foundation was my window into healing. I majored in sociology with an emphasis in juvenile delinquency and I always wanted to work with youth that didn't have the same opportunities as others because I was that youth when I was younger and I just never thought I would be doing this work and my brother's name. But being able to find empathy for Tony to be able to forgive him to be able to let go of that anger allowed me space for love and joy and to come and work with my father and Pless on our mission to create safer schools and communities and give students and young people the tools they need to live life in a healthy way and to not harm themselves and to not harm others. And being able to do that work in my brother's name is an honor. And it's a way for me to remember him and my brother always said he wanted to leave this world a better place and to be able to do that. And his name gives me a lot of purpose. In fact you're holding an event this weekend to actually rally support for Tony Hicks release. Can you tell us about that. Yes we have an event on Saturday at the Jacobs Center from 5 to 8 p.m. and part of that event we are going to start releasing a movement for advocating for the parole board to find Tony Hicks suitable for parole and whatever we can and whatever we can have the San Diego community stand by us in advocating for Tony because we know that he is going to serve a better purpose outside the prison walls. And first time parole hearings can be challenging when you're up for parole for your first time. But with all my heart and with 100 percent confidence I know that Tony is going to live the path of peace and forgiveness. And I know that he has it in his heart to redeem what he did. Now please there are people who may not want to see Tony Hicks out in the community again after committing such a terrible crime. What do you say to them. Tony who committed murder when he was 14 years old. He spent 20 plus years in prison. Atoning for that. That treacherous act. He's been forgiven by the family of the person that he murdered. He has responded to that forgiveness by doing and taking the necessary steps to make himself better to prepare himself so when he's out of prison he can make a contribution to save children's lives. So for those folks I would say to them it's always important that we recognize help where it is and support the help from where it comes and never turn down an opportunity to support a person's life. Turning around I've been speaking with Tocharian camisa executive director of the terrae camisa Foundation and plays Felix co-founder of the foundation. Thank you both very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Tony Hicks shot Tariq Khamisa in 1995 over a pizza.

Khamisa wouldn't give Hicks the pizza he was delivering or the money he carried. Khamisa was 21. Hicks was 14.

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Hicks was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison under a California law that was weeks old at the time. It allowed offenders as young as 14 to be tried as adults.

That might have been the end of the story, had it not been for Tariq's father Azim. He reached out to Hicks' grandfather, Ples Felix, in a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation, and the Tariq Khamisa Foundation was born.

Today the foundation, run by Tariq's sister Tasreen, is looking ahead to Hicks' first parole hearing on Nov. 28. Hicks earned a high school diploma in prison, took courses for college credit and also writes a blog for the foundation. The foundation supports parole for Hicks, and even has a job for him if the hearing is successful.

Tasreen Khamisa and Felix talk about the foundation and the upcoming parole hearing Thursday on Midday Edition.

Courtesy of Tariq Khamisa Foundation
Tasreen Khamisa poses for a photo with her brother, Tariq, in this undated photo.
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