Evanston residents to rally in Fountain Square for national gun violence awareness efforts

Syd Stone, City Editor

Evanston residents will gather in Fountain Square on Saturday to rally in support of gun control as part of the national Wear Orange Day.

The campaign begins Friday on National Gun Violence Awareness Day when people all over the country will show their support for gun violence prevention with rallies and marches. The color orange came to represent the gun violence prevention movement ever since supporters wore it in honor of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed in 2013 in Chicago just one week after performing at President Barack Obama’s second inaugural parade.

The local Saturday event — organized by People for a Safer Society, Moms Demand Action Evanston and Dear Evanston — will be the second Wear Orange Day in the city.

“We’re aware of gun violence every single day,” said Nina Kavin, one of the event’s organizers. “Whether it’s a mass shooting or a shooting in Evanston, we’re all very aware of gun violence. It’s important to come to the event to stand together in solidarity.”

However, Kavin — co-founder of Dear Evanston, a community forum discussing race and inequity in the city — said the Evanston event exists to do more than just raise awareness of gun violence. It is meant to remember Evanston residents who have lost their lives to gun violence, and to “celebrate life,” she said. Kavin added that there will be a clear focus on actionable steps people can take to create change.

The event will tackle gun violence from two perspectives, Kavin said. The first one addresses the trauma of gun violence and working with communities in an equitable manner to prevent gun violence. The second, she said, advocates for “more sensible gun legislation.”

Dr. Traci Kurtzer — an Evanston resident, representative of Moms Demand Action Evanston and organizer of Saturday’s event — said the event will address both the “individual” and “community” traumas that occur after gun violence. She said she hopes the event will give families of victims of gun violence an opportunity to share their stories.

“This can happen to anybody and anytime in our country because guns are so prevalent,” she said. “All of the kids across the country, including our kids at (Evanston Township High School) have a sense of trauma and fear of going to school.”

Betsy Storm, a co-leader of Moms Demand Action Evanston, said the Wear Orange Day event will have a strong focus on young people and students in particular.

“It’s become so very clear that the student involvement is what’s really creating the tipping point in the movement,” Storm said. “When young people decide they’re going to take something on in great numbers, they get a lot of attention. They’re the ones that are growing up with this in their school yards.”

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