It was a drizzly morning; the drops of rain were undeniable despite the fact that we’d had beautiful sunny weather for weeks. Our End Gun Violence Vigil involved 26 tiny pairs of shoes representing Sandy Hook massacre victims and the testimonials of three victims of gun violence in California. We weren’t sure we’d have enough mass and visuals to have any impact in the rain. But our four week old Community United Against Gun Violence agreed that we would show up and if nothing else, huddle together in the rain.
At 3 o’clock we showed up with our signs, a suitcase full of shoes, little rubber boots, sneakers, etc. and the crowd began to form around two big banners: “SF United to End Gun Violence” and one in Spanish saying “No Estamos Hasta La Madre” with a splash of red paint representing the blood spilled by over 60,000 victims of the war on drugs in Mexico.
Gathering at the Federal Building plaza in San Francisco, people passed on their way home from work and stopped to ask what this was all about; the little shoes and a sign that made no sense if you only had high school level Spanish.
Latinos, the fastest growing demographic in California, passed by chuckling and gave the thumbs up as we explained that it meant something on the order of “Enough Already!!…..
The Terrifying Facts:
Over 34 people are killed a day by gun violence in the United States, fast approaching a level of terror we find unacceptable anywhere else in the world. And there are 90 guns for every 100 Americans! In fact the US has 5% of the worlds’ population and 50% of the world’s guns.
Statistics like that can make you mad, but the stories of the victims move you to action. So last Thursday we laid the shoes out as we called out the names of the murdered children and teachers of Sandy Hook elementary school.
We also listened to a few California parents who had lost their own children to gun violence here on the west coast. Karen Pandula spoke about getting the phone call from the hospital and the magical thinking she engaged in as she rushed to the hospital hoping that her daughter Kristina was just incapacitated and unable to speak for herself.
From the heartbroken mother we were called to support our Representative Pelosi in her key role to support Obama’s initiative to:
- Ban Assault Weapons
- Ban High Capacity Ammunition Cartridges
- Make all gun buyers pass a background check
Finally the Reverend Allen of the Third Baptist Church reminded us that though we are non-violent warriors, this will be a fight that we must commit to if we are to heal the country. Though the group was small, it was spirited and dedicated and I heard more than one person say “this is just the beginning, a seed has been planted.”
~Check out and share our End Gun Violence Vigil photos on Facebook.
~Join us as we continue to expand our Community United to End Gun Violence — next meeting is Wednesday – February 20th at the Global Exchange office. Or start your own Community to End Gun Violence by signing up with Move-On.org.