Harlem Congressman Charles B. Rangel, who represents New York’s 13th Congressional District of New York that includes Harlem (Upper Manhattan) and parts of the Bronx, joined New York State Assemblyman Keith Wright and leaders of the Harlem community to host a Wear Orange rally.
The event was followed by a special film screening of ‘Making a Killing: Guns, Green, and the NRA,’ at Harlem Hospital on June 2, 2016, the second annual Gun Violence Awareness Day. The rally was part of a national initiative to call for an end to gun violence and to raise awareness about the issue by wearing orange.
“The Wear Orange campaign has united people all across our nation to stand up for gun safety,” said Rangel. “Gun violence prevention is often pushed into the national spotlight after a tragedy has occurred, however, we must continue the conversation and the advocacy until we can put an end to the gun violence epidemic. We have suffered far too many of these traumatic events.”
Orange became the color of the movement to end gun violence after the 2013 shooting of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton. The Chicago high school student was tragically shot and killed just a week after she marched in President Barack Obama’s second inaugural parade. Her friends chose the color orange, inspired by hunters that wear orange to distinguish themselves in the woods, to commemorate the life of their slain friend. June 2nd would have been Pendleton’s 19th birthday.
A panel discussion at the event included Councilwoman Inez Dickens, co-founder of Harlem Mothers SAVE Jackie Rowe Adams, founder of Street Corner Resources Iesha Sekou, Hazel Dukes from the NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Leah Gunn Barrett, Erik Cliette from Harlem Hospital’s Anti-Gun Violence Program, Rev. Al Taylor of Infinity Mennonite Church and Rev. Doctor Vernon B. Williams from Perfect Peace Ministries Youth Outreach. Members of Community Board 10, the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, HARLEM WEEK, and the Harlem Arts Alliance were also in attendance.
The panel discussion was followed by a screening of Brave New Film’s 2016 film, ‘Making A Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA.’ The film takes an investigative look into the gun industry, recounting gun tragedies that include unintentional shootings, domestic violence, suicides, mass shootings and trafficking, and explores what can be done to end to this profit-driven crisis.
“I will continue to urge my colleagues to recognize the urgency of gun safety and to help protect another life from being taken too early,”said Rangel. “There are commonsense measures that people on both sides of the issue can support.”
Rangel has repeatedly called for congressional action to prevent gun violence. On November 30, 2015, which marked the twenty-second anniversary of the enactment of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, Congressmen Charles Rangel and Hakeem Jeffries introduced H.R. 541, a Resolution that would designate the month of June as National Gun Violence Awareness Month. This would promote nationwide efforts to prevent shootings, especially during the summer months when crime spikes in most areas of the country. The Rangel-Jeffries bill follows the example of a similar resolution that was unanimously passed by the New York State Legislature as part of a five-year push to reduce gun violence across the State. Since the first annual Gun Violence Awareness Month in June 2013, New York City has seen all violent and gun related crime reduced by 5.6%.
“Most of the gun violence in our State occurs in New York City, but this is not just a local issue,” added Rangel. “There are more than 285 million guns in circulation in this country. It’s a national problem that requires a national solution. The designation of June as Gun Violence Awareness Month is an important step in that direction. No one should have to worry about losing a loved one to another tragic shooting.”
One in three Americans know someone who has been shot, and a gun in the home is twenty two times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense.