Statement on Gun Violence in El Paso and Dayton; Commemorates Anniversaries

There have been 255 mass shootings in the United States so far in 2019- and today, yet again, we find ourselves mourning for the lives lost in Dayton and El Paso--and with Brooklyn, Vallejo, and Baltimore where families have lost loved ones but we know that gun violence in some communities don’t always make the national headlines. Mass shootings represent a fraction of the hundreds of lives lost every day due to gun violence which includes police brutality and domestic violence.

Everyone should be able to live their lives without fear of gun violence. Our hearts are with the victims, their families and loved ones, and all those affected by these tragic shootings as we also commemorate the anniversaries of several significant shootings this week. 

Today we mark the 7th anniversary of the tragic massacre at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, where six people were fatally shot and killed while four people were wounded. White nationalism in the United States is on the rise and is carried out by non-state actors/vigilantes that are acting out as enforcers, which is an extension of state-sanctioned violence. This is what we saw in El Paso, Texas where a vigilante shot and killed migrants in order to carry out the work of border agents. 

Today is also the 5th year anniversary of the killing of John Crawford, who was shot and killed by Beavercreek city official, in a Walmart store in Beavercreek, Ohio, near Dayton. On Friday, August 9, we approach the 5th anniversary of when Michael Brown, Jr. was fatally shot and killed by a city official in Ferguson, Missouri. Million Hoodies Movement for Justice was founded in 2012 in response to the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin after a neighborhood vigilante took the law into his own hands.

With each incident, we find ourselves in a similar pattern- mourning, searching for motives, calling on our elected leaders to do something, before we fall back into our daily lives as inaction towards gun violence remains as American as apple pie until the next shooting happens and we look at one another with a sense of disbelief that our inaction brought violence to our community’s front door step. 

Enough is enough.

Change must come but we must remain vigilant on how that change will impact all communities. We simply cannot call for just gun reform and restrictions that will only focus on access to guns. These solutions disproportionately impact communities of color and inflate the incarceration rate of Black and Brown bodies, subsequently creating more problems that it solves. We must move away from using criminalization and enforcement as the strategy to combating gun violence and toward a solution that embraces gun violence as a public health crisis that attacks the problem in totality without branding our most vulnerable citizens as property of the state. 

Our communities must remain united to put an end to the epidemic of gun violence.

We can stop white nationalism and the culture of toxic masculinity without investing more resources into policing. Gun violence is a health crisis that impacts everyone. We must go beyond just gun reform. Gun buy-back programs, trauma recovery, and proposals like universal basic income are ways to go further than just gun reform and offers communities a chance at shared prosperity, economic mobility, and safety.

255 is 255 too many and until we take meaningful steps to make the changes we so desperately need, 256 will be inevitable.

About Million Hoodies Movement for Justice
Launched in 2012, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice is a human rights organization dedicated to ending gun violence and reimagining safety and justice for all communities. MHJ partners with leaders and advocates to advance state reform through advocacy, public education, coalition-building, and research. MHJ brings together students, elected officials, and survivors of gun violence to advance policies that help communities most harmed by the criminal justice system. We promote strategies and advocate values-driven solutions to stop the cycle of violence and build healthy communities.