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Gun Violence Awareness Day Proclamation Rejected By Mayor, City Council

Jun 5, 2019

Events commemorating Friday as National Gun Violence Awareness Day will be held in St Petersburg, Lakewood Ranch and Tampa. But in Temple Terrace, the city council and mayor voted not to acknowledge the day at all.

At Tuesday's meeting, councilwoman Cheri Donohue brought forward a proclamation from the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America organization. The proclamation asked if Mayor Mel Jurado would recognize Friday as National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

Jurado rejected it, saying she did not want the city to be involved with any sort of political action committee.

On its website, the organization defines itself as a "grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence." The group lobbies lawmakers on gun legislation and endores political candidates. 

“It is not a nice innocuous group of moms, holding hands and singing Kumbaya, and keeping their kids safe,”  Jurado said. “That is not what this is about. This is about funding politicians who think in a very specific way and it is a challenge.”

The proclamation, which does not request any donation from the city, says the main purpose of the day is to honor the legacy of Hadiya Pendleton, a teenager shot and killed in Chicago in 2013.

The day is marked by asking people to wear orange to raise awareness about gun violence and its victims. 

Events will be held throughout the Tampa Bay area.

On Friday, "Wear Orange" events will take place at Greater Mt. Zion AME Church in St Petersburg and Main Street in Lakewood Ranch. In Tampa, Mayor Jane Castor will speak at the Wear Orange Community Barbeque on Saturday at Fair Oaks Park Community Center.

Next Tuesday, David Hogg and Emma González, survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, will be speaking at an event at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Edelyn Verona, co-leader of the Tampa chapter of Moms Demand Action, spoke about the group saying, “we promote a campaign of preventing children from obtaining access to unsecured guns which kills so many kids every year. In Florida alone, every seventeen hours a child is shot by a gun.”

After discussion amongst the council members and a few Temple Terrace residents, the proclamation was formally denied due to lack of a second motion.

Following the denial, councilman James Chambers suggested a day addressing gun violence without tying it to the Moms Demand Action group. This was opposed by former mayor, and now councilman, Frank Chillura.

“Since we’re going to be addressing a day for gun violence, I would also like to see the staff address one for alcohol violence, regular violence, just violence across the board,” Chillura said.

“Of course no one wants violence with guns, and guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”