Melissa Walsh

Vigil set as call to action

Grosse Pointe News | April 12th, 2018 | News section

Vigil set as call to action By Melissa Walsh

GROSSE POINTE PARK — WeGP, or Welcoming Everyone Grosse Pointe, is bringing together a coalition of organizations committed to reducing gun violence in a vigil commemorating the 19th anniversary of 12 students and a teacher killed in Columbine High School by two senior students.

The April 20, 1999, massacre has evoked debate over gun-control legislation.

The vigil taking place 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 20, at St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic Church in Grosse Pointe Park, is led by WeGP and hosted collectively by Moms Demand Action Eastside, Grosse Pointe/Harper Woods NAACP, League of Women Voters Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Democratic Club, Little Pointers for Diversity, Christ Church Grosse Pointe, St. Paul AME Church, Grosse Pointe Unitarian Church and Grosse Pointe Congregational Church.

Event planning committee member, Annemarie Rogers, a founding member of the Eastside chapter of Moms Demand Action, said, “Any time there’s something like that, we lend our support. And we promote our group and the benefits people can have in being engaged in our group.”

Moms Demand Action has been involved in other events aimed at raising awareness about gun violence, including the March 24 “March for Our Lives” event in Detroit.

“I certainly want to make it clear that we are not an anti-Second Amendment group,” Rogers said of Moms Demand Action. “We’re not looking for anyone to have their guns taken away. We believe in the Second Amendment, but we also believe in common sense gun regulation.”

Greg Bowens, NAACP Grosse Pointe/Harper Woods chapter president and member of the event’s planning committee, said, “No matter where we stand on the Second Amendment, we can all agree that preserving life makes sense and we should do all we can to protect life, not finding new ways to kill.”

According to Rogers, the group seeks legislative change in Michigan supporting expanded criminal background checks, elimination of “gun-show loopholes” and improved enforcement against unlicensed gun sales.

Local community leaders will speak during the vigil, including the Rev. Barry Randolph of Church of the Messiah, who is known for faith-based community activism.

“(Randolph) has the unfortunate perspective of having just about everyone in his church community being impacted by gun violence in one way or another,” Rogers said.

The vigil’s organizers expect at least 50 people to participate. Witnessing more teen engagement in activism aimed at reducing gun violence, Rogers said she expects strong attendance by young people. She said some of the local teen organizers of the recent “March for Our Lives” event attended last month’s Moms Demand Action Eastside meeting.

“We are all inspired by the strong youth leaders who are demanding change and common sense gun reform,” said Shannon Byrne of WeGP. “It’s beyond time we do our part.”

“It’s gotten to a tipping point,” Rogers said. “And people are seeing the influence of the gun lobby and the negative impact it’s had on our safety and security.”

“It’s never too late, never too early, to try to create peace in our community,” Bowens said.

For more information about the vigil, visit we-gp.org/events.