This Weekend, Think About Preventing Gun Violence

Wear orange, the defining color of the gun violence prevention movement

Published : Thursday, June 6, 2019 | 5:32 AM

When 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was struck by a bullet ending her life, that moment spawned a movement for gun violence awareness that urges wearing orange and in Pasadena, today and this weekend is the time to dress up.

Just one week before her murder in a Chicago schoolyard, Pendleton had walked in President Barack Obama’s second inaugural parade and life must have seemed rich in possibility.

Bounded by their grief, her friends created “Wear Orange” day to give gun violence awareness a national profile. They chose orange, the color of safety vests, to symbolize their drive for a safer country, according to Melissa Taylor, co-lead, San Gabriel Valley Mothers Demand Action (SGVMDA). June 6 is Wear Orange Day.

On May 20, the Pasadena City Council recognized June 7 through June 9 as “National Gun Violence Awareness Week,” proclaiming that, “gun violence touches every segment of our society and impacts people of all ages…”

Awareness week was started locally in 2016, according to Brenda Harvey Williams, director, Pasadena Department of Human Services and Recreation.

“We wear orange to honor those lives who’ve been cut short and those who have been injured,” said Harvey Williams. To recognize the fallen and bring about an awareness of gun violence being a major problem in our society.”

San Gabriel Valley Moms Demand Action is holding a Wear Orange event at the All Saints Episcopal Church. Speakers will include Rep. Judy Chu (D) and State Senator Anthony Portantino (D).

The movement is national in scope with over 700 Wear Orange efforts scheduled across the width and breadth of the map.

SGVMDA’s Taylor spoke May 31 on the issue at the Jackie Robinson Community Center.

The group, she said in an interview, advocates for evidence-based goals to keep families and communities safe by closing loopholes on background checks, promoting gun safety and supporting reasonable laws already on the books.

The question arises as to whether a country enduring mass shootings that occur with numbing regularity needs to have its awareness raised.

“Guns are a very personal thing to Americans,” said Taylor. “And we think if we don’t talk about gun violence, it won’t happen to us. But we need to talk about it. It is not the mass shootings that are the problem. One hundred people die a day in this country when it comes to gun violence.”

Pasadena is, simply put, relative to the conversation.

As recently as May 17, Pasadena police shot and killed 36-year-old Daniel Warren, who was reportedly roving about a Pasadena neighborhood in body armor, toting a rifle.

Lieutenant Scott Hoglund is in charge of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s investigation of the shooting.

Hoglund explained that investigators have sifted through the homicide scene, interviewed witnesses and acquaintances of the victim, and work with the crime laboratory. All of which will be put into a report for submission to the County District Attorney who will then determine if the shooting was legal.

“The process can take some time,” Hoglund emphasized.

Earlier this year, Pasadena Police fired a number of rounds at an armed, but fleeing, man on Raymond Avenue. The Department eventually put out a narrated video detailing the results of its internal investigation.

A similar production from the Warren shooting is anticipated as such post-investigation videos are now City policy.

Both incidents are indicative of the fact that the Pasadena Police Department’s officers are not the only ones in town carrying firearms.

The department could not provide figures on incidents involving gunfire, but did generate a Collected Firearms Report, showing that, from 2014 to date, the police assumed custody of 1,334 firearms: 93 of the guns having been found; 750 being confiscated as evidence; and 491 for secured for “safekeeping.”

“Even though gun violence has decreased across Pasadena over the years, it has absolutely no place in our community,said Pasadena Police Department spokesman Commander Jason Clawson. “Would-be criminals should be ashamed that they would resort in using a weapon of such magnitude to commit crimes, settle indifference, bravado or for sport. Using a firearm could end a life or send the shooter(s) to prison forever. It’s always better to walk away than suffer a lifetime of regret over something so easy to avoid.”

Pasadena Now did a review of responses to “shots fired” stories on its Facebook page and these suggest an unnerving familiarity with the phenomenon, especially in certain areas of Northwest Pasadena.

By way of example, Mark W. reported that, “There have been repeated explosions in this area for months.”

“It has been years,” said Jasmine H. R. “I lived in the neighborhood for eight years and it was [gunfire] consistent throughout all the seasons and spiked in the summer.”

“How can we make it safer?” asked Lani D. N. “Can we still walk on our streets without fear?”

Free orange lapel ribbons, stickers and informational pamphlets will be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at four locations: Jackie Robinson Community Center, 1020 North Fair Oaks Avenue; Robinson Park Recreation Center, 1081 North Fair Oaks Avenue; Victory Park Recreation Center, 2575 Paloma Street; and Villa Parke Community Center, 363 East Villa Street.

All Saints Episcopal Church is located at 132 North Euclid Ave. The Wear Orange event takes place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 8.

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