“We need to get these guns off these streets and it don’t seem like they’re doing it, and if they are doing something about it, it’s not fast enough,” said restaurant supervisor LaDawn Merrell.
Friday and Saturday, Merrell and her coworkers are all donning orange t-shirts, as well as badges with the names of lost loved ones, as part of the Wear Orange campaign for National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 3.
Merrell knows the cost of gun violence too well; she lost her first grandson and then her brother in shootings.
Sadly, many in this restaurant community have been personally affected by gun violence. Three members of the family-owned restaurant’s staff have been victims of gun violence in the past year. Briana Lawrence, 25, was killed in a mass shooting in Englewood last June.
“It just kind of blew me away as far as seeing how this has affected us in some way or another,” said Daniel Hernandez, restaurant employee.
“Gun violence must stop,” said Raymond Ford, customer. “Please stop.”
This is the first year Lawrence’s has participated in Wear Orange Day.
Wear Orange Day is observed every June in honor of Hadiya Pendleton, the Chicago teen killed by a stray bullet in 2013 shortly after she returned from performing at President Obama’s second inauguration. Thursday would have been her 25th birthday.
Pendleton’s death became an instant rallying cry against Chicago’s gun violence. Each year around Hadiya’s birthday her family, friends, former classmates, and the Hyde Park community mark the occasion with marches, bike rides, and forms of peaceful protests against gun crime. Each year they wear orange, the same shade hunters wear to avoid being hit by gunfire from fellow hunters.
Friday a Critical Mass ride wound through the South Side’s streets.
“We’re beyond being aware. now it’s affected people in a lot of ways where it has hit home more so than ever before so I definitely think we’re at a point where something has to be done I do think legislation is where it starts. At every level,” said Cecilia Crenshaw, rider.
Pendleton’s mother has spent the last nine years as an anti-violence advocate.
“Nationally it appears people are just losing their common sense,” Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton said.
Saturday Pendleton’s mother will transform the city park bearing her daughter’s name into what she says is a safe space; an annual gathering for people personally dealing with trauma to come feel safe, and get help from professionals.
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