FANWOOD, NJ -- Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr and Lauren O'Brien of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense (Union County) hosted a "Wear Orange" event attended by over 150 people at Forest Road Park in Fanwood on Thursday, June 2.
Several mayors, elected officials, law enforcement officers, and concerned residents from throughout the area who share a commitment to ending gun violence. Among the notable orange-clad attendees from Scotch Plains-Fanwood were Mayor Mahr and Fanwood Borough Council members Kathy Mitchell, and Jack Molinaar, and Scotch Plains Councilwoman Colleen Gialanella.
Numerous members of the law enforcement community were on hand, including Fanwood Police Chief Richard Trigo and Scotch Plains Captain Ted Conley, Union County Sheriff Joe Cryan, and Union County Prosecutor Grace Park, who gave a moving speech about the shattered lives of children whose parents are killed by gun violence.
Assemblyman Jamel Holley, Cranford Mayor Andis Kalnins, Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp, Rahway Mayor Samson Steinman and Linden Councilwoman Michele Yamakaitis represented their communities. Members of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Ministerium and other members of the faith community also were on hand.
"While considering my remarks for this evening, it made me sad to reflect that in 2016 there is an event called National Gun Violence Awareness Day," Mayor Mahr said. "Nearly 12,000 people are murdered in the U.S. with guns each year -- four times the number killed on 9/11. Another 21,000 commit suicide with guns each year -- seven times the number killed on 9/11."
Mahr told the audience: "While it makes me sad that we have to come to this point, I am so very encouraged to see all of you here tonight... The challenge of restoring gun safety in the U.S. will require the persistence of ordinary citizens to fight for a safer America."
The program included several speakers and a theatrical performance by the Community Actor Student Theatre.
"We're moms. We can do this. And we're dads, and aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters. We all want to live in a safer America, and none of us want to be tomorrow's headline," Colleen Mahr said.
In 2013, a group of teens at a South Side Chicago high school asked their classmates to honor the life of their murdered friend Hadiya Pendleton by wearing orange – the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves. They inspired the "Wear Orange" campaign (wearorange.org), a coalition of non-profits, cultural influencers and elected officials working to reduce gun violence in America.
Spearheaded by Everytown for Gun Safety, the campaign asks Americans to do one simple thing on June 2, National Gun Violence Awareness Day: Wear Orange. Those who wear orange pledge to honor the lives of Americans stolen by gun violence, to help keep firearms out of dangerous hands and to protect our children from gun violence. The movement has already reached more than 220 million people worldwide and is fast becoming the symbol of the gun violence prevention movement.