PEORIA, Ill., — Gun violence around the country has cut many lives short. The community supported National Gun Violence Awareness weekend to remember those who were affected by gun violence.
Moms Demand Action Peoria partnered with Black Justice Project, Change Peoria and Indivisible Peoria to host the first Wear Orange Remembrance Walk Saturday.
Gun violence in Peoria and around the country has taken a toll on several communities. Several people came together at the Peoria Riverfront to learn how to build safer communities for families.
Years ago a small group of teens at South Side Chicago High School honored the life of Hadiya Pendleton, a classmate who was killed, by wearing orange.
Orange was her favorite color and the color hunters wear to protect themselves in the woods. This inspired the orange campaign, a coalition of non-profits, cultural influencers and elected officials working to reduce gun violence in America.
This walk honored the lives stolen by gun violence and survivors.
“…. Everybody has a right to life and uh it’s unfortunate that sometimes in this world people lose their lives too soon to gun violence,” Wear Orange Remembrance walk coordinator Erin Gatton said.
Madeline Martinez, a Peoria resident, attended the walk with her son Jeffrey Martinez, who was shot and fortunately survived.
“It just happened out of nowhere, they shot me and yeah I was scared,” Martinez’s son Jeffrey Rivera said.
However, Martinez’s second son was shot and killed.
“They killed the joy and the happiness of a family,” she said.
“It’s heartbreaking I can’t imagine the feeling that you lost a loved one to something that you had no control over that day,” Gatton said.
Families say these violent acts can hurt multiple people at one time.
“Gun violence affects so much more than just the single person that’s been shot, it affects the community,” Moms Demand Action Co-Leader Annalee Huntington said.
Neighbors are worried about the fate of their families and can only hope for change.
“…We’re the only country that has this kind of gun violence and its because of our lack of laws,” Huntington said.