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Life-Size Cutouts Help Extend The Relationship With Lost Loved Ones In New Orleans

In New Orleans, the lifelike representations have become a part of the city's tradition of social grieving and are a source of healing, especially in communities that have suffered from gun violence.
A few weeks after Javon Johnigan's shooting death on Sept. 3, 2016, his 8-year-old son Jamai demonstrates how he takes selfies with a life-size cutout of his father. Originally made for the funeral and the repast, Jamai keeps the cutout of his dad behind his bed. "We talk to him and take pictures with him," said Javon's mother, Elizabeth Johnigan. "It's a big help for someone who is grieving." Source: Tyrone Turner for NPR

Editor's note: This report includes images that some may find offensive.

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina's devastation, photographer Tyrone Turner returned to his native New Orleans to report on the persistent rise of violence in the region. While photographing the funeral of Malik Braddy, an 18-year-old who was shot and killed in the Lower Ninth Ward, he noticed something striking: family and friends taking photos with, hugging and lifting into the air a life-size cutout of Malik.

"When you take a selfie with the cutout, it looks like the person's there. I was really fascinated by it," Turner says.

Afterwards, he continued to see

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