‘National Gun Violence Awareness Day’ rally comes amid violent year in Madison

‘National Gun Violence Awareness Day’ rally comes amid violent year in Madison

Local activists and community leaders came together Thursday for a rally at Madison’s Central Park, calling for stricter gun control laws and an end to gun violence.

It’s part of “National Gun Violence Awareness Day,” which was started by friends of Hadiya Pendleton, 15, who was shot and killed in Chicago in 2013. Pendleton was killed a week after marching in President Barack Obama’s second inaugural parade.

Attendees at the rally wore orange, which was Pendleton’s favorite color.

Madison police Chief Mike Koval spoke at Thursday’s rally. He has previously called this year’s level of violence in Madison “unprecedented,” and said Thursday Madison police officers have responded to 40 gun-related calls so far in 2016, a number which he said speaks to the severity of gun violence in the city.

“Unfortunately, we have our issues here, here in Madison,” Koval said. “We’re way ahead of where we should be prospecting for homicide rates owing to gunfire.”

Corinda Rainey-Moore, who attended the rally with her granddaughter, Aaalayah Carroll, 8, said she worries about the increased gun violence in Madison.

“When I came here to go to school, I decided I was going to stay here because it was safe for my family,” Rainey-Moore said. “Now I can’t really even say that it’s a safe community because of all the violence that’s been happening here.”

For them, though, the issue of gun violence is even more personal. Aaalayah’s father, Orlando, was a victim of gun violence on the streets of Washington, D.C.

Orlando Carroll was shot and killed when Aaalayah was just a baby.

“She’s grown up without her dad because of it,” Rainey-Moore said. “Oftentimes, (with) her cousins, who have their dad in their life, she often talks about why her dad isn’t in her life and how she feels bad because they’re interacting with their dad and she doesn’t get to do that.”

Aaalayah said she had a message to those responsible for violence in Madison.

“Stop the shooting. Stop the violence. Nobody wants to grow up without a dad,” she said.

Koval said he worries that Madison children could end up caught in the crossfire if the violence continues.

“(I’m) deathly concerned, no pun intended, that we are going to have a sad, morbid case of some child innocently made a fatality owing to a disinterested bullet that owes no allegiance to anyone once it’s out of the barrel,” Koval said.

Not all Wisconsin law enforcement officials were behind the message of National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

In a blog post on the conservative website “Right Wisconsin,” Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said, “This inane creation of a National Gun Violence Awareness Day is right in line with the other stupid, symbolic gestures — like Ceasefire Sabbath — that do nothing to stem crime and violence.”