On March 29, Heeding God’s Call, held their Fifth Annual Good Friday Procession and Vigil to protest the continued gun violence in the city. Nearly 200 worshippers gathered late in the afternoon at St. Paul’s Baptist Church, where worship services began, and then “en masse” marched to Benjamin Franklin High School on North Broad Street for the vigil.
The Tabernacle United Choir and Arch Street Methodist Choir joined the Healing Presence Singers under the backdrop of the Common Threads Mural, which is representative of hope for the future. Holly Phares directed the choirs during the ecumenical service that included guest speakers from several faith-based organizations and families who have lost children to gun violence. By joining together, the worshipers affirmed that it is possible for citizens to fight for legislation and social policies that would help bring peace to our streets and homes.
According to CNN, Philadelphia has one of the worst homicide rates in the country, with more than 80% of these crimes committed with a gun.
A young, black man, has a greater chance of being shot and killed in Philadelphia than he would have if he were a soldier serving in the conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq,
An average day in US has 30 gun-related murders with another 162 wounded based on the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, 53 people kill themselves with a gun each day. Our homicide rate of 4.7 murders per 100,000 people is one of the highest of all developed countries. Unfortunately, statistics of these daily tragedies mean little in the public consciousness and only when mass shootings occur, do citizens begin to take notice. This outrage that follows these shootings is followed by frustration as law-makers, indebted to the gun lobby, block even the most sensible gun restrictions, such as high-capacity magazines. If the Tucson shooter had only ten bullets, Christina Taylor Green would be with her family today.
At the rally in Philadelphia, parents of children who were killed by guns spoke of their loss.
While this was a peaceful demonstration, just a day before mothers in Indiana had to stand in defiance in front of a line of armed men carrying AR-15 semi-automatic weapons. The moms, advocating for restrictions on purchases of high-capacity magazines and legislation requiring background checks on gun sales, were protesting in front of the Indiana statehouse. An armed opponent admitted that his rifle was loaded. Some might argue that the Indiana protest was also peaceful, but the potential for violence, either because of accident, mental instability or provocation, undermines the tenants of democracy to live free from the threat of gun violence.
Numbers to reach US Senators at this link.