Lindsay Warren, of Moms Demand Action, speaks as Wear Orange Day and Gun Violence Awareness Month are commemorated by community leaders and gun control activists at an event in front of the Spirit of Detroit statue June 1.

Lindsay Warren, of Moms Demand Action, speaks as Wear Orange Day and Gun Violence Awareness Month are commemorated by community leaders and gun control activists at an event in front of the Spirit of Detroit statue June 1.

Photo provided by Mary Sheffield


Detroit area community leaders, activists commemorate Wear Orange Day

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published June 11, 2018

DETROIT — With chants of “No justice, no peace” and “We’re fed up, we’re fired up,” community leaders and supporters commemorated June as Gun Violence Awareness Month in front of the Spirit of Detroit statue June 1.

This is the third year such a commemoration has taken place in Detroit. It was created to run in conjunction with Wear Orange Day, a national day to push for an end to gun violence recognized across the country each year on June 2.

“Although it is an honor to stand here with these politicians, volunteers, advocates and activists, there is no joy in this occasion,” said Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield, who helped organize the event. “Gun violence kills an average of 96 Americans every day. … Every time we lose a young person, we lose the future of our city.”

A major theme of the event was the cooperation between the community and the city of Detroit, including law enforcement.

“When the community and police come together, we have an unbeatable team,” said Detroit Police Department Deputy Chief Todd Bettison. “That’s the key.”

Bettison said the push for more gun safety may be making a difference. Detroit’s annual homicides as of May 27 are down 17 percent, and nonfatal shootings are down 25 percent from the same date in 2017.

“There are so many things making a difference,” said Bettison. “Project Greenlight and Ceasefire Detroit, I think, are great programs. … The public being more aware of gun safety issues and groups like those here today are also factors.”

Bettison stressed that among the most important things community members can do to cut down on gun violence is to not carry a gun while intoxicated.

Sheffield, ministers, law enforcement officials and gun control advocates spoke at the event. The Detroit Youth Choir performed as well, and the program was capped off by releasing 96 orange balloons into the air in honor of the 96 people who lose their lives to gun violence every day in the United States.

One of the groups that took part in the event was Engage 18, a student organization that was started earlier this year by students at Bloomfield Hills High School. Group founders Michael Goldman Brown Jr. and Zachariah Farrah spoke during the proceedings.

“We’ve been reaching out to as many events as possible so we can reach as many young people as we can,” said Brown. “We’ve been trying to speak to young people and say that no matter how young you are or how big the problem is, there are ways to get involved.”

Brown and Farrah also led a student summit on June 2 at the Warren Community Center to discuss gun violence and how to both share resources and plan gun control-related events.. 

Wear Orange Day is organized by Moms Demand Action. This year’s theme is “Use your voice,” which Lindsay Warren, the leader of the group’s Oakland-Macomb chapter, said is a call to action.

“We want people to realize you can make a difference,” she said. “Talk to politicians, encourage plans to combat gun violence and vote for gun control candidates.”

Representatives from Students Demand Action, an offshoot of Moms Demand Action, also attended the event. A new group started this year, Students Demand Action was formed largely in response to the increasing number of mass shootings at schools throughout the United States.

“They get all the resources we do. They are doing everything they can to push for things like universal criminal background checks, promote gun safety programs, and support things like laws pushing for measures such as red flag laws, disarming domestic abusers and fighting illegal gun trafficking,” said Warren. “Of course, they are also involved in getting young people to register to vote once they’re old enough.”

For more information on Moms Demand Action or Wear Orange Day, visit www.momsdemandaction.org.