My Friend Martin
Chris Peterson is an admissions officer, teaching assistant, and researcher at MIT. He works at the intersection of digital strategy, new media, and social change.
In addition to his research affiliation with Civic, he is on the Board of the National Coalition Against Censorship, a Fellow at the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution, and the founder, owner, and sole-proprietor of BurgerMap.org.
He earned his B.A. in Critical Legal Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he completed his thesis on Facebook privacy and/as contextual integrity advised by Ethan Katsh and Alan Gaitenby. He earned his S.M. in Comparative Media Studies from MIT, where he completed his thesis on user-generated censorship advised by Ian Condry, Ethan Zuckerman, and Nancy Baym.
My Friend Martin
Please donate to the Richard Family Fund.
Martin Richard died Monday, killed by bombs hidden at the Boston Marathon. He was 8. He was my friend.
Many people have come to know Martin through this picture, shared by a teacher of his at Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester where he was a student. They’ve come to know his poignant poster which pleads for peace. They’ve come to know his toothy, goofy grin. He was too young for braces. He was too young to die.
I first met Martin when he was a toddler. We'd not been there five minutes before his older brother bonked him on the head with a basketball. Not maliciously, but curiously, as if to see what would happen. As the eldest of three brothers, I understood, since I also saw younger siblings as interesting experiments. Behold, science in action! Martin blinked, screwed up his face as if to cry, hesitated, and laughed instead. Hypothesis validated: Martin was awesome.
My brothers and I spent weeks every summer with Martin, his brother, and his sister. We played in the sand, tossed rocks in the water, threw them laughing into the waves. Their parents are among the kindest, gentlest, most thoughtful I have ever known; the kind of parents I would one day like to be.
We love them very much.
Now Martin is gone. The rest of the Richards have suffered brutal physical and psychological wounds. They face a hard road to recovery, all the longer and more lonesome without their beloved son.
Nothing can bring Martin back to walk that road with them. Those who love them can only try to smooth their passage. The Richards have not, and would not, ask for help. But many people have asked how to help them, and have not had a clear avenue through which to do so.
With the help of my wonderful friends at the Center for Civic Media, in partnership with a local nonprofit, and in coordination with their extended family, we’ve launched the Richard Family Fund. 100% of donations from this campaign will be disbursed directly to the Richards to support them now and in the healing which lies ahead.
On Monday afternoon I wrote that Carlos Arredondo gave me hope. On Tuesday morning I was woken by my brother, crying, telling me that Martin was dead. Since then it has been hard to feel hopeful. I have instead felt low, so low I can barely remember the sun, and the waves, and Martin laughing, running in the sand. I am heartbroken. I am heartbroken.
Please remember Martin. Please remember peace. Please remember his plea to stop hurting people. Please let his memory bring hope back into the world.
I will miss you dearly, Martin. And I am forever and always your friend.
With love, with sorrow, and with hope,