Orange-clad citizens gathered on the Monroe County Courthouse lawn Friday night to honor victims of gun violence.
Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America organized the event for National Gun Violence Awareness Day, the first Friday in June.
“It’s to raise awareness and to honor the victims of gun violence and the survivors they leave behind,” Bloomington chapter leader Courtney Dailysaid.
Event organizers asked attendees to wear orange, a tradition created by the friends of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed a week after performing at former President Barack Obama’s second inaugurationin 2013. The color orange is used in hunting to signal someone should not shoot.
Dailey said she joined Moms Demand Action after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
“I made a promise to myself that night that I was going to somehow get involved in stopping this gun violence epidemic, but I had no idea how I was going to do that,” Daily said.
She said she quickly became involvedwhen she heard a Bloomington chapter of Moms Demand Action had started. Daily opened the event by memorializing the 12 victims of the May 31 mass shooting in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Daily said honoring victims of gun violence through action is more than a one-day event.
“It is equally important and vital that we continue this work the rest of the year so that next June when we gather for ‘Wear Orange,’ the list of names is smaller,” Daily said. “And the year after that, even smaller.”
Monroe County commissioner Julie Thomas said the Bloomington community needs to push state and federal legislators to enact sensible gun laws and start a cultural shift away from gun violence.
“Imagine what this community could look like if we lived without fear of gun violence,” Thomas said.
The Monroe County Board of Commissioners then proclaimed June 7-9 as "Wear Orange" weekend.
Mary Catherine Carmichael, director of public engagement for the mayor’s office, delivered a proclamation from Mayor John Hamilton declaring June 7, 2019, as National Gun Violence Day in Bloomington.
Following the proclamations, the group lit the courthouse with orange lights. Moms Demand Action volunteers helped members of the crowd light orange lanterns and release them to gently float away into the night air.
Pam and Chuck Flowers both volunteered at the event. Pam said she felt compelled to take a stand against gun violence.
“I just felt like I just couldn’t not do anything,” Pam said.
Chuck said both he and Pam feel strongly about limiting access to firearms people who should not have them.
“Not gun control, as such, but just common sense procedures,” Chuck said. “Don’t sell guns out of the back of a car at fairs, things like that. Go through background checks. Give the documentation.”
Pam said she hoped the event inspired attendees and passers-by to start speaking out against gun violence.
“It’s one heart at a time,” she said.
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