Looking to begin broader dialogue, Evanston community members discuss gun violence

Dan Anthon and Carolyn Murray discuss gun violence at a panel at Curt's Cafe on Wednesday evening. The discussion covered the impact of guns on the community and movements to end the violence.

Ciara McCarthy/The Daily Northwestern

Dan Anthon and Carolyn Murray discuss gun violence at a panel at Curt's Cafe on Wednesday evening. The discussion covered the impact of guns on the community and movements to end the violence.

Ciara McCarthy, Assistant City Editor

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Participants in a Wednesday panel on gun violence started a community discussion they hope will lead to a citywide movement by June.

About 20 people gathered at Curt’s Cafe, 2922 Central St., to discuss gun violence. Four panel members shared stories of their experiences and subsequent involvement in gun control activism. The panel was hosted by the Center for Artful Intention, an art-therapy practice.

The panel is part of a larger push by the Center for Artful Intention to start a dialogue about gun violence in the community. Last week, the center opened an exhibit titled “Shattered: A Visual Dialogue About Gun Violence,” at the cafe.

“As therapists, we often talk to people in the therapeutic setting about the impact of violence on the individual, but we wanted to kind of bring it back to the community and say this isn’t an individual issue, it’s something we all experience as a community,” CAI co-founder Val Newman said.

Evanston resident Carolyn Murray described her years of involvement in the gun control movement. In November, while she was preparing the city’s first gun buyback program, her 19-year-old son was fatally shot. Murray described ending gun violence in Evanston as her “duty,” and invited those present to an anti-violence march she is planning for June 22.

Gun activist Jeanne Bishop described the brutal 1990 slaying of her pregnant sister and brother-in-law in Winnetka, and her subsequent passion for limiting the number of guns on the streets.

“I can’t bring my sister back, but what I can do is try to make sure that this does not happen to another family,” she said.

Evanston Township High School teacher Paola Ruocco brought about 10 of her students to the discussion. An English teacher, Ruocco taught freshman Dajae Coleman before he was gunned down near the school in September.

“There is such a difference of hearing somebody’s story live,” she said.

Susan Trieschmann, executive director of Curt’s Cafe, ended the evening by encouraging all those gathered to spread the message of Murray’s anti-violence march in June.

“Let’s make this powerful, let’s let people know that we’re not kidding, that it’s time to make change,” she said.

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