US cities honor victims of gun violence with Wear Orange campaign

by Anadolu Agency

HOUSTON, United States

Cities across the US on Friday began taking part in the Wear Orange campaign to recognize victims and survivors of gun violence, a chronic problem that continues to plague America.

“As the news cycles move on, there seems almost always to be some sort of shooting,” said Tammy Georgiou, a resident of the Chicago suburb of Palos Hills in the state of Illinois. “You continue to hear about another mass shooting somewhere or that another person died because of a shooting.”

Georgiou, who is a member of the national grassroots public safety group Moms Demand Action, told Anadolu by phone that taking part in the 9th Annual National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 2 is a way to let the public know that this is a serious issue which needs to be addressed in the US.

“It’s horrible. You get numb hearing about all of these shootings,” said Georgiou. “You get overwhelmed with the same story over and over again. So, you need to keep the awareness of gun violence in the public eye so that these things hopefully don’t happen again.”

The Wear Orange campaign began nearly a decade ago after 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago.

Shortly after the tragedy, Pendleton’s family and friends decided to commemorate her life by wearing the color orange, which is the color hunters wear in the woods to clearly be seen in order to protect themselves from getting shot by other hunters.

“The color orange is very symbolic,” Georgiou explained. “Hunters wear orange to let other hunters know, ‘Hey, I’m not an animal, don’t shoot me. I wear orange, I don’t want to be shot.'”

The Wear Orange campaign is a weekend-long event taking place in cities across the US, from Chicago to Houston to New York.

Organizers of the program encourage Americans to wear the color orange to honor Hadiya and the more than 43,000 Americans killed with guns, as well as the nearly 76,000 victims who are shot and wounded every year.

“We honor the communities shattered by gun violence alongside the 120 people who are shot and killed, and hundreds more who are wounded, every day in our country. Together, we call for meaningful action to save lives,” the campaign said in a statement on its website. “We should not have to live in fear that gunfire can ring out at any moment, whether it’s at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, while grocery shopping at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, a party in San Bernardino (California), or graduations across the country.”

As part of the mission to spread gun violence awareness across the country, Georgiou said Moms Demand Action made it a priority to have suburban mayors throughout the Chicago area adopt a proclamation declaring June 2 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day in each municipality.

“Americans are 26 times more likely to die by gun homicide than people in other high-income countries,” the Palos Hills proclamation stated. “Illinois has 1,622 gun deaths every year, with a rate of 12.9 deaths per 100,000 people, a crisis that costs the state 18.6 billion each year, of which 62.5 million is paid by taxpayers.”

Georgiou said pointing out these frightening facts is part of the mission to raise awareness about curbing gun violence in America.

“It’s not about being anti-second amendment to the US Constitution,” said Georgiou, explaining that Moms Demand Action supports the second amendment and the right for Americans to bear arms. “It’s not about getting rid of guns, but rather using common sense and being responsible with guns.”

“A lot of members are gun owners,” she continued. “If you’re a legal gun owner, you need to take the proper precautions and take responsibility. It’s about locking up your guns so children don’t get their hands on weapons.”

Some cities are holding rallies and marches to commemorate the Wear Orange campaign. Others are holding ribbon-tying events and creating message boards for survivors of gun violence. Moms Demand Action is holding a blood drive to show its support for the cause.

“Gun violence affects entire families, entire communities. It’s a ripple effect,” said Georgiou. “Holding this blood drive is symbolic of the need to curb gun violence. If you’re shot by a gun, you’re going to bleed out. People who have gun injuries are going to need blood because of the blood loss. There’s always a shortage of blood. Donating blood is our way of giving back to the community.”

Georgiou acknowledged that recognizing gun violence for just one day or one weekend alone will not make the problem go away. However, she emphasized that by joining together in solidarity with this movement might make an impact to help curb this frightening and deadly problem in the US.

“It’s important to acknowledge the problem of gun violence and talk about it, discuss it with your community and bring awareness to the issue,” said Georgiou. “If you want to change it, you need to be talking about it.”

More than 17,000 people have lost their lives to gun violence across the US this year, according to a tracker.

Data on the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) shows that 268 mass shootings have taken place so far this year, leaving 14,850 people injured besides those killed.

You may also like