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Chapel Hill observes Gun Violence Awareness Day with rally


Then-Orange County Commissioner and current Carrboro Town Council member Barbara Foushee speaks at the Gun Violence Awareness Day rally held at the Peace and Justice Plaza on June 3, 2022.

The Town of Chapel Hill recognized Gun Violence Awareness Day with a rally at the Peace and Justice Plaza on June 2. The event was organized by members of the Orange County Board of County Commissioners, Carrboro Town Council, Moms Demand Action and North Carolinians Against Gun Violence.

Linda Green, a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at UNC, was one of many that attended the kick-off to the community’s recognition of Wear Orange Weekend. Friday was the first of three days recognized annually to bring awareness to the impact of gun violence across the nation. 

“I feel angry that gun violence is something I have to worry about,” she said. 

She said that she believes having to know what to do in the case of gun violence is a part of her job that she didn’t sign up for. 

“I want to avert the future in which I die trying to protect my students from an active shooter,” she said. 

This year, Gun Violence Prevention Day — which is also known as Wear Orange Day — falls on June 2, a day that would have been the 26th birthday of Hadiya Pendleton, a young girl who died from gun violence in 2013 in a park in Chicago.

After her death, Pendleton’s friends began wearing orange in remembrance of her. Orange is the color typically worn in recognition of the gun violence prevention movement.

Speakers at the event included representatives of Moms Demand Action, North Carolinians Against Gun Violence and an introduction by Mayor Pro Tempore of the Town of Chapel Hill, Karen Stegman.

Renuka Soll, a member of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, spoke at the event.  North Carolinians Against Gun Violence is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing gun death and injury.

She said that she has hope for change in the enactment of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act this past June, which was legislation that increased funding for mental health programs and reduced the threat of community violence in the U.S.

Soll also mentioned the intervention of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence in the passage of House Bill 189.

The bill would have allowed anyone 18 or older, with certain exceptions, the ability to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. 

“Together, we stopped this,"Soll said. "If it had passed, we could have expected a 29 percent increase in violent crime rate." 

Sylvia Burns, a member of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots organization that started from a Facebook group. 

Following the Sandy Hook tragedy, the organization evolved into a movement toward passing stronger gun laws and closing loopholes in legislation. 

The organization includes branches of Students Demand Action in high schools and colleges across the country, Burns said. 

“The people want to change even, like I mentioned, the Fox News poll shows that 87 percent of Americans are ready for universal background checks, which means a check on every sale of every single firearm,” she said. 

The event ended with a joint proclamation made by members of the Chapel Hill and Carrboro Town Councils, as well as the raising of the orange flag by members of the Chapel Hill Police Department color guard. 

@DTHCityState | 

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