«No more silence, end gun violence!»
With one of the world’s most iconic sites as the backdrop, the «wear orange» Campaign rallied and cheered at the Golden Gate bridge to draw attention to one of the most pressing issues in the country – gun violence.
Early Sunday, June 4th, Bay Area residents, state and local leaders, along with gun violence survivors and student leaders peacefully rallied and marched across the Golden Gate Bridge to advocate for gun safety and an end to gun violence.
A crowd of 600 first gathered at Vista Point, on the Marin side of the bridge, hosting a variety of speakers who spoke about the urgency of the gun violence crisis. According to the organization Gun Violence Archive18,192 people have died from gun violence as of June 4, 2023, and there have been 276 incidents of mass shootings across the country in just 155 days of 2023.
Christopher Colwell, Chief of Emergency Medicine, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, spoke to the crowd with a physician’s urgency on what many regard as a national epidemic.
«Gun violence affects all of us, and we have to demand action. My colleagues and I see far too often the awful impacts of gun violence on a weekly and even daily occurrence,» Colwell said.
Keynote speaker Mattie Scott works tirelessly against gun violence as the founder and executive Director of Healing 4 Our Families & Our Nation, the San Francisco Chapter Leader of Mothers-in-Charge and president for California Brady United. Scott spoke passionately from the perspective of having lost her son, George, to gun violence
«This epidemic is out of control. I am ashamed of our nation, as we are not protecting our children. I do this work for you, for all of us.» Said Scott.
«I want young people to know they have the power to stop the violence. In voting booths. Through their voices. And in unity,» Scott said.
Scott’s messages resonated with the crowd, where a sea of posters and signs were visible all throughout the crowd. «Common Sense Gun Laws Now», «We Can End Gun Violence!» and «We don’t have to live like this.»
Following the speeches, rally goers took their anti-gun violence signs across the bridge. On a day that was cool and clear with beautiful views of the Marin Headlands and San Francisco, it was hard not to notice the hundreds of orange clad walkers, drawing supportive honks from car traffic.
The Golden Gate Bridge event was hosted by volunteers from the California Section of Students Demand Action, and a partnership with the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, part of Wear Orange Weekend and National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
Every year, between June 2-June 4th, communities across America wear Orange, and participate in events throughout the Wear Orange weekend.
Wear Orange originated back in June of 2015, after fifteen year old Hadiya Pendelton was tragically shot and killed at a Chicago playground. Since then, Wear Orange continues to work to remember Hadiya and those around the country that are affected daily by gun violence.
In the wake of nationwide attention following school shootings such as Uvalde, students around the country are now leading efforts to bring attention to what they feel is a nationwide crisis.
Students such as Alexander Ibarra helped organize and speak at the rally against gun violence.
Student speaker Alexander Ibarra got involved with Student Demand Action after the Uvalde, Texas shooting one year ago. He looked up a local chapter to get involved and is now leading awareness efforts such as the Wear Orange event.
«It’s important to be here today because too many kids have died for this. Too much blood is on the hands of our politicians. It’s important to come out because we are the future» Ibarra said.
Elected officials and representatives from numerous groups all united to speak, including: Betty Yee, former California State Controller and Vice Chair, California Democratic Party; Catherine Stefani, D2 SF County Supervisor; Arthur Renowitzky, Gun Violence Survivor and Executive Director, Life Goes On Foundation; Rudy Corpuz, United Playaz; and Rudy Espinoza, Mothers Demand Action.
In attendance were members of the Soul Box Projectwhich encourages activism through art. Project member Lisa Dell’Anno explained, «This project began three years ago as an art and activism project that encourages people to fold boxes in remembrance of people killed and wounded by gun violence.»
«The initial idea was to display three years worth of lives lost to gun violence and to display them on the National Mall. That goal was achieved, but the project continues on to bring personalization to the lives lost, remembering each person killed by a gun is more than a statistic. The 120 boxes in our backpacks today represent the number of gunfire deaths every single day in this country,» Dell’Anno said.
High school teacher Matt Mattoon came out from Pittsburg with his family. A high school teacher, Mattoon conveyed his students are disheartened and need a way to take action.
Liz Russell, who is a volunteer with Napa Valley Moms Lawsuit Action, spoke about what she feels we all can do.
«Too many people are dying from gun violence, and it doesn’t have to be this way. This is a national epidemic. A public health crisis. There are steps we all can take. Walking across this bridge, volunteering with a local violence intervention program, getting out the vote. All of these actions can really help to make a difference» Russell said.
At the rally at the Golden Gate Bridge this June 4, 2023, hundreds of Bay Area community members made it clear they are passionate in the need to take action.
You may be interested in: California Launches GunSafety.ca.gov Website for Anti-Gun Violence Resources