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Gun Violence Prevention One-on-Ones with State Legislators and YWCA

On April 28, the Gun Violence Task Force met through Zoom and talked to three local leaders involved in gun violence prevention work in Kalamazoo: State Representative Jon Hoadley, State Senator Sean McCann and Sherry Brockway of the YWCA.

Rep. Hoadley talked about the current session of the MI House as it has been affected by the Covid-19 crisis.  He was preparing to go to Lansing the next morning to join the session called by the Speaker.  You may have seen how that session went through media coverage and pictures of armed protestors in the Capitol.

Both Rep. Hoadley and Sen. McCann talked about their passion to help people in working as organizers in past and guiding them in their work in Lansing.  They stressed the importance of the census completion to the critical issues of gerrymandered districts in MI and opportunities to pass gun sense laws in MI.

Ms. Brockway, as Director of Emergency Response and Community Outreach at the YWCA, talked about the lethal interconnections of domestic violence and guns.  This is particularly amplified and more dangerous for victims of gun violence in the midst of Covid-19 stay-at-home orders.  They can be isolated with the dangerous abuser who threatens them due to the living situation.  She said that staff persons at the YWCA are working cooperatively with the Prosecutor’s Office to directly counsel and advise victims caught up in these dangerous situations.  She discussed some ways in which our Task Force could assist in these efforts.  Join our next meeting on Tuesday May 26 @ 6:30 pm on Zoom to find out more.

As our work goes into June, we want to highlight that June 5 is National Gun Violence Awareness/WEAR ORANGE Day.  This month the Kalamazoo and Portage City Commissions and the Kalamazoo County Commission are considering proclamations for June 5 as Wear Orange Day.  In the past, partner organizations including Moms Demand Action, Coalition for Common Ground, ISAAC and the YWCA have held in-person events to commemorate this day and honor local victims of gun violence.  This virtual events year we are encouraging individuals and families to wear orange and take selfies to post on their social media posts on June 5.  Posts can also be shared on Moms Demand Action Kalamazoo and Michigan Moms Demand Action FB pages or Twitter or Instagram. Post with #Wear Orange tag and a personal message about your reason to share.

Secondly, between now and June 5, you can learn to fold paper into a SoulBox at  The Soul Box Project collects and exhibits thousands of hand-folded origami boxes to raise awareness of the U.S gunfire epidemic. Each Soul Box represents one victim.  Completed boxes with personalized messages, and the words ‘Wear Orange 2020” added by you, can be mailed directly to the Project which uses each box in exhibits to highlight the national cost of gun violence in human terms.  You can read more about this inspiring commemorative work on the SoulBox webpage.

– Rick Omilian Gun Violence Prevention Task Force co-chair with Tami Rey, and Mollie Peterson, GVPTF member