ELIZABETH, NJ - About a dozen people gathered at Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza across from City Hall yesterday evening, with some calling for a city ordinance mandating gun safety vaults.
Salaam Ismial, director of the National United Youth Council, organized yesterday’s rally in the wake of the July 4 shooting death of Jose Oliver Torres Tineo. Ismial said he sent a letter to Mayor Christian Bollwage and City Hall on Sunday asking for Elizabeth residents to own and register safety vaults for their guns.
“I am anti-gun, yes," Ismial, an Elizabeth resident, said at the rally. “I hate guns. However, this is not an infringement of the Second Amendment. But guns is an infringement of our moral rights because guns’ purpose is only to do one thing, and that is to maim and to kill.”
Sources told TAP that the son of Elizabeth Police Department officer Kevin Kelly shot Tineo. Anonymous sources told other reporters that Kelly’s son apparently shot Tineo, 16, by accident in the officer’s home.
Councilman-at-Large Manny Grova, Jr. told TAP today that he did not tell Ismial that City Council would consider a gun safety vault ordinance, but did say that research into it would be conducted.
“I told him I would have [the] city law department do research,” Grova said in an email. “Nothing else at this time. Not even sure if we can regulate such a thing or if this falls under state regulations. Again our Law [department] needs to do the necessary research.”
One attendee at the rally yesterday had a different idea for gun safety. Mike Ward, an Elizabeth resident, took to the loud speaker and asked for gun safety to be taught in the school district. He also called for “range time” in school to at least teach “good aim.”
“As horrible as it sounds, this is something you really have to think about,” Ward said, later adding that, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
One male passerby in a car, who identified as a gun owner, yelled out in agreement with Ward’s proposal to teach students how to use guns.
“It’s not your community!” Sharieff Eley, who lives in East Orange and works in Elizabeth, yelled back to the man in the car.
Eley, who is vice president of a group called House 581 that helps support communities in New Jersey and other states, said he heard about yesterday's rally from Ismial, who is a mentor to him.
Younger Elizabeth residents were also in attendance, like Kason Little and William Johnson, who are both 17.
“We need to come together to collaborate on ideas, to decrease conflicts so that we can prevent gun violence or any kind of violence that may impact us all,” said Little, who is a junior at the Academy of Finance and founder of the Students of Elizabeth Advisory Committee.
Ismial called the rally a “success” and said some people may have been deterred from attending because rain was forecasted yesterday.
“It’s a different kind of world now,” Ismial said, adding that about five people were streaming the rally on Facebook. “Some people will just watch [the rally] on Facebook, and that’s good because the more information we get out there, the better.
He is planning to organize other youth organizations and hold a summit in Elizabeth on July 26 from 1 to 6 p.m., he said. The next City Council meeting, meanwhile, will be on July 25.