Rep. Cum­mings to crowd: ‘This plaza should be full’

Lead­ers, ac­tivists march, rally in Baltimore against gun vi­o­lence

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Lillian Reed

In the wake of high-pro­file mass shoot­ings, U.S. Rep. Eli­jah Cum­mings, other lo­cal politician­s and dozens of ac­tivists — many of whom lost loved ones to gun vi­o­lence — ral­lied in Baltimore Saturday for gun safety.

Though the crowd of­ten cheered as one, the rally was an in­ter­sec­tion of con­cerns for both mass shoot­ings across the coun­try and for the dev­as­tat­ingly high homi­cide rate in Baltimore.

Some Baltimore res­i­dents spoke of the city’s sys­temic prob­lems lead­ing to dis­pro­por­tion­ately black vic­tims of gun vi­o­lence, call­ing for bet­ter fund­ing for ed­u­ca­tion and manda­tory con­flict res­o­lu­tion cour­ses in schools. Other ac­tivists from Mary­land sub­urbs said they were alarmed by school lock downs and called for univer­sal back­ground checks and clos­ing le­gal loop­holes for pur­chas­ing firearms.

Most in at­ten­dance agreed gun vi­o­lence is a pub­lic health cri­sis that needs to be ad­dressed im­me­di­ately by leg­is­la­tors.

The rally fol­lowed a march through Baltimore or­ga­nized by the Mary­land chap­ters of gun safety ad­vo­cacy groups in­clud­ing Moms De­mand Ac­tion and Stu­dents De­mand Ac­tion. The events were part of a multi-city cam­paign Saturday in re­sponse to the shoot­ings this month in El Paso, Texas, and Day­ton, Ohio, and to gun vi­o­lence found across the coun­try.

At the Baltimore rally and march, ac­tivists from across Mary­land donned bright red shirts and car­ried posters that read “dis­arm hate” and “enough is enough.”

“This plaza should be full,” Cum­mings, a Baltimore Demo­crat, said to the crowd of more than 100 that dot­ted the lawn of the War Me­mo­rial Plaza in front of Baltimore City Hall.

Cum­mings said Saturday’s event was very per­sonal for him, as his own nephew was fa­tally shot in 2011 while com­plet­ing his junior year at Old Do­min­ion Univer­sity. The con­gress­man shared in graphic de­tail how he vis­ited the crime scene to sur­vey what was left be­hind.

“We have had too many mur­ders in our coun­try,” Cum­mings said.

Cum­mings’ point echoed the sen­ti­ments of 20-year-old ac­tivist An­to­nio Moore, whose speech elicited one of the rally’s most mourn­ful mo­ments when he asked those in at­ten­dance to say the names of peo­ple they knew who had died from gun vi­o­lence.

Some in the crowd bel­lowed the names, while oth­ers said them qui­etly to them­selves.

“Not one more,” Moore said, punc­tu­at­ing each word after the crowd fell silent.

“I feel like it re­ally af­firmed a com­mon­al­ity of pain from los­ing a loved one,” he said of the mo­ment fol­low­ing his speech.

Caro­line Broder, a mem­ber of the Mary­land chap­ter for Moms De­mand Ac­tion, said the move­ment for mean­ing­ful ac­tion on gun vi­o­lence is a marathon, not a sprint.

“I have hope,” she said. “Ten years ago, you never would have seen Democrats at­tend­ing these kinds of func­tions."

A mother in at­ten­dance, Linda DeMinds, held the hand of her 7-year-old grand­son Jer­im­iah as she marched. DeMinds’ only son Mark Pearce was fa­tally shot in the head in Baltimore only 10 months prior.

“It’s still fresh,” she said of her son’s death.

“I came out to be around other mothers who’ve been through it,” she said, adding that this was her first time at­tend­ing any event re­lated to gun vi­o­lence.

DeMinds be­lieved fam­i­lies are called to ad­vo­cate for loved ones in their ab­sence, she said.

“But it doesn’t bring my son back,” she said.

PHOTOS BY KARL MER­TON FER­RON/BALTIMORE SUN

Ac­tivist An­to­nio Moore leads pro­test­ers in chants as they march on East Fayette Street on their way to Baltimore City Hall on Saturday for a rally to honor lives cut short by gun vi­o­lence and de­mand com­mon-sense gun re­form.

Pro­test­ers march on East Fayette Street on Saturday on their way to City Hall.

U.S. Rep. Eli­jah E. Cum­mings, D-Md., speaks to the crowd dur­ing the rally.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.