SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Essex County Moms Demand Action sponsored a rally on Sunday at the gazebo on Sloan Street in South Orange to spread awareness about gun violence and to demand legislative change.
This is the third year a "Wear Orange" rally was held in SOMA, part of a national recognition of Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 2. Orange became a symbolic color in the gun violence prevention movement because, shared organizers, "it’s the color that hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others from gunfire. So Hadiya Pendleton’s friends decided to wear orange in her honor when she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15."
Rachel Eskin Fisher, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action, spoke at the rally, telling the crowd, "we will not rest until we make you safer with gun reform in America."
Daniel Cohen, Rabbi of Temple Israel, also addressed the crowd and said he was present not only for his Congregation but representing the South Orange Interfaith Clergy Association.
“I gave a sermon after Newtown, and five years later after Parkland I gave the exact same sermon," said Cohen, adding, “God commands us to act as if everything depends upon us... enough is enough."
Cohen said, "the gun lobby works to keep available large ammunition clips, high velocity weapons, bump stocks and lack of significant background checks. The constitution promises the right of all to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
"There’s been enough thoughts and prayers - today we demand action," said Cohen.
Katy McClure, a member of Everytown Survivor Network of Everytown for Gun Safety, shared how her family has been personally impacted by gun violence when her sister was shot by her husband, and had to learn to swallow and speak again. "Never again to gun violence," said McClure, "there are 69 killed every day.”
South Orange Village President Sheena Collum also spoke at the rally, stating that “the adults have failed our youth."
"The US is 4.4% of the world population and about 42% of the civilian gun ownership. There’s been 1,600 shootings since Sandy Hook," said Collum, adding her support for the work of Moms Demand Action to fight for safer gun laws.
Collum also praised the efforts of student leaders, and the support of the SOMA community which raised $31,000 for Everytown for Gun Safety after the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Collum invited a student who was holding a sign that read, "We cannot be the future if we are dead," to stand with her before the crowd,
Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca said that he is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and encouraged everyone to go to the polls and vote, leading the crowd in a chant of "we will vote."