Photos: Tucsonans wear orange in protest against gun violence
As the sun dropped behind the adobe sanctuary of Southside Presbyterian Church on Saturday evening, dozens of Tucsonans wore orange as part of a nationwide push for an end to gun violence.
The event was one of dozens scheduled across the country over the weekend, including two events in Phoenix, organized by Everytown for Gun Safety—a coalition of two gun safety groups, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
The event occurred in response to a wave of mass shootings across the nation.
On May 24, a gunman used an AR-15 to kill 19 children and two teachers at a elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, wounding 17 more. Since the incident in Uvalde, there have been at least 34 mass shootings nationwide, killing 57 people and wounding dozens more, according to the Gun Violence Archive. This includes incidents in Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.
Even as people pushed against gun violence on Saturday, a fight at a Phoenix-area strip mall turned deadly when someone fired a pistol, killing one person and wounding eight. Early the next morning, two people were killed and two more wounded during a shooting at a Mesa nightclub.
Wearing orange as a symbol against gun violence began in 2013, after 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago just a week after she marched in President Obama's second inaugural parade. Following her death, friends decided to commemorate her life by wearing orange—the color hunters wear in the woods.
Wear Orange began on June 2, 2015—marking Pendelton's 18th birthday—and the event has expanded over the last seven years to cover three days, including National Gun Violence Awareness Day on the first Friday in June, and Wear Orange Weekend.
As more than 100 people packed into the patio area of Southside Presbyterian Church, Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik sang and played guitar. Later, when he asked how many people had been affected by gun violence, more than a half-dozen people raised their hands. The evening continued as members of the Pasqua Yaqui and Tohono O'odham sang a series of prayer songs, at one point asking "Lord, please, protect our children."
Outside, orange shirts — some bearing the names of children killed by the gunman in Uvalde, Texas — waved in the breeze.