Moms Demand Action organized local 'Wear Orange' walk, plans further events

COURTESY ANNEMARIE JACQUES - Marchers make their way through downtown Hillsboro on June 2, in support of legislation to curb gun violence across the country.Dozens of orange-clad protestors marched through downtown Hillsboro last weekend, hoping to raise awareness about gun violence across America.

As many as 80 protestors demonstrated Saturday, June 2, walking through downtown Hillsboro as part of a national demonstration. The walk was organized by the Hillsboro chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

COURTESY KAREN TORRY - The march was one of several in the Portland area."Gun violence impacts people in a lot of different ways," said Karen Torry, a Moms Demand Action member who lives in Forest Grove. "We want to raise awareness of the number of people killed by guns, and the damaging effects it has on a wide circle of people."

The march was one of hundreds of "Wear Orange" events across the country, including a handful in the Portland area. Moms Demand Action advocates for legislative changes to gun-safety laws on the local and national level.

National "Wear Orange" demonstrations sparked after the death of Chicago teenager Hadiya Pendleton in 2013. Pendleton was shot by mistake after the alleged shooters mistook her and a group of friends for a rival gang, according to prosecutors. Pendleton had performed in Washington, D.C., during festivities during then-President Barack Obama's second inauguration a week before her death.

Marchers ended their demonstration outside the Hillsboro Civic Center, where demonstrators lined up 96 pairs of shoes, to symbolize the average number of Americans who die from gun violence every day.

"There has been a lot of focus on school shootings, because they are horrible tragedies," Torry said. "But there are still 96 people killed by guns every day in homicides, suicides, accidents and domestic violence incidents every day in this country."

This was the first Wear Orange rally in Hillsboro, but Torry suspects it won't be the last.

"We brought quite a few people who had never been to an event like this before," she said. "We weren't sure if we'd have 10 people or 100. We definitely want to do this again next year. We want to see it grow."

Torry got involved with the group a few months ago, after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

After that shooting — which left 17 people dead and more than a dozen wounded — the Hillsboro chapter of Moms Demand Action saw a surge in membership of locals wanting to end gun violence locally and nationally.

"I work at a school, and I feel really impacted by the reality of school shootings on a daily basis," said Torry, who is the assistant principal at the Forest Grove Community School. "The Parkland students inspired me to get more involved with this issue. It's not just school shootings. Kids deal with gun violence every day. That's the reality."

Moms Demand Action was founded in 2012, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which left 28 dead.

Since then, the group has grown to more than 4 million members, with chapters in each state, Anderson said.

By Geoff Pursinger
Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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