Members of the SOMA community gathered Friday evening at the Gazebo at Hilton Library in Maplewood for the 2nd annual Wear Orange rally to raise awareness of gun violence and to promote sensible gun laws. Wear Orange is a national event begun by teens in Chicago in memory of their friend, Hadiyah Pendleton, whose life was cut short by gun violence in 2013, just one week after she participated in President Obama’s inaugural parade.
The event was hosted by SOMA Moms Demand Action, SOMA: Addressing Race & Inequality, and North Jersey Pride. Leaders from South Orange and Maplewood were on hand, including Village President Sheena Collum, Mayor Vic DeLuca, Maplewood Township Committee people India Larrier and Frank McGehee and South Orange BOT member Walter Clarke.
(Read Collum’s remarks, and a proclamation from Maplewood Township, below.)
Locals wore orange to honor the more than 90 lives cut short and the hundreds more injured by gun violence every day, and to demand action. As the organizers describe it: “Orange is what hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others from harm. Orange is a bright, bold color that demands to be seen. Orange expresses our collective hope as a nation — a hope for a future free from gun violence.”
The following are remarks made by Collum:
Orange is the color that Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wore in her honor when she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15. This year, she would be 20.
According to the Wear Orange campaign, orange is what hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others from harm. It is a bright, bold color that demands to be seen.
And tonight, we’re being seen together – as friends, neighbors, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children. Tonight, we’re a family, a sea of orange and not only do we demand to be seen, we demand to be heard.
We wear orange because: On average, 115,000 people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, unintentional shootings, or by police intervention.
We wear orange because: By the end of the day, 93 people will die of gun violence.
We wear orange because: Since January 1st of this year, 1600 children and teens, have been killed or injured by gun violence.
We wear orange because: Black Americans make up 14 percent of the U.S. population but are victims of more than half of all gun homicides and we believe that Black Lives Matter.
The National Rifle Association spends millions every year on campaign contributions and lobbying and is opposed to virtually every form of gun regulation including restrictions on owning assault weapons, background checks, and changes in the registration of firearms.
Just 3 months ago, Donald Trump quietly signed a bill into law rolling back an Obama regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun. The NRA applauded this move stating “we now have a president who respects and supports our arms.”
The fight for common sense gun control has never been more important. So tonight, we remember the victims, stand with the survivors and remind ourselves that we have a voice and can use that voice every day to demand change. Lives depend on it.
On a final note, I want thank SOMA Moms Demand Action, SOMA: Addressing Race & Inequality & North Jersey Pride for hosting tonight’s event. As your South Orange Village President, it’s been truly inspiring watching the advocacy that’s emerged from our two amazing towns. Fighting to stop gun violence, fighting for racial justice, fighting for marriage equality, fighting to protect immigrants in our two sanctuary cities, fighting for women’s rights, fighting for our environment and the list goes on.
The spirit of advocacy is alive and well in SOMA – as is the care and love we have for each other and our brothers and sisters across the globe.
THIRD ANNUAL NATIONAL GUN VIOLENCE AWARENESS DAY
JUNE 2, 2017
WHEREAS, 30,000 Americans across the country are killed every year as a result of gun violence – including 12,000 who are murdered – destroying families and communities; and
WHEREAS, Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed with guns than people in other developed countries; and
WHEREAS, common sense gun laws are necessary to keep guns from dangerous people; and
WHEREAS, we renew our commitment to reduce gun violence and pledge to do all we can to keep firearms out of the wrong hands, and encourage responsible gun ownership to help keep out children safe;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that I, Victor De Luca, Mayor, on behalf of the Maplewood Township Committee, do hereby proclaim June 2, 2017 as
NATIONAL GUN VIOLENCE AWARENESS DAY
in the Township of Maplewood and urge all of us to work together to find innovative ways to:
1. Extend background check requirements for all gun sales, including the private sales that take place online and at gun shows.
2. Target and hold accountable irresponsible gun dealers who break the law by knowingly selling guns to straw purchasers.
3. Punish to the full extent of the law criminals who possess, use, and traffic in illegal guns.
4. Support all local state and federal legislation that targets illegal guns; coordinate legislative, enforcement, and litigation strategies; and share information and best practices.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we oppose efforts by the President and Congress to repeal existing gun safety laws and loosen regulations for gun owners.