Local survivors speak out during Gun Violence Survivors Week
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – A new online campaign wants to share the stories of people who have survived gun violence and advocate for change during the first ever Gun Violence Survivors Week.
Gun violence survivors in Michiana hope it helps other people understand the issue.
Two days before Christmas in 2013, Elkhart mother Angela Turner received a phone call that forever changed her life.
“Went to the hospital and by the time I got there, they had pronounced him dead,” said Turner.
Angela’s son, 18-year-old Devonte “Ray” Patrick, died after being shot during a robbery near the Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart.
“I was just numb in disbelief,” said Turner. “Ray was the comedian of the family. He was the youngest of my three so he was very spoiled.”
A call from Loria Perez’s then 17-year-old son saying he had been shot also altered her life in April 2017.
“Everything stopped right then and there,” said Perez. “I had no questions, it was just hang in there baby, hold on.”
While Loria rushed her son to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, her other son, 19-year-old Anthony Mobley, laid in the grass outside of a home on Logan Street. He died after being shot six during a fight.
“Anthony was definitely a momma’s boy, a very loving father,” said Mobley,
It’s the stories of survivors like Angela and Loria that Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action hope to highlight on their “Moments that Survive” memory wall.
“It don’t just affect home, it affects outside your home,” said Perez.
It’s an online platform to kick off the inaugural Gun Violence Survivors Week which runs during the first week of February.
“That makes for people being more aware and also be willing to be more a part of the change that we feel needs to happen,” said local survivor and Everytown for Gun Safety member Stephen Miller.
Both moms want awareness and policy change that prevents gun violence.
Ray’s uncle, Adrian Riley, would like to see a cultural change where people show compassion to each other and invest in rehabilitation and prevention programs.
Riley, a retired corrections officer and program coordinator, says he met and spoke with one of the people involved in his nephew’s murder on a weekly basis.
“While they’re behind bars, help them work out their own stuff,” said Riley. “You know just what’s going on, why do you feel this way? Once you show them that., it’ll transform them.”
All say they want this change so no other parents, siblings, children, friends, or family have to be labeled as gun violence survivors.
“Every time I feel like I’m down or I want to give up, I remember that so that’s my motivation to keep going because I said I’d never give up,” said Turner.
“My moments that survive is that I stay strong,” said Perez. “I stay fighting for this.”
Local chapters of Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action invites survivors to a meeting Saturday, February 9th at 10 a.m. at Olivet AME Church.
People can also share their stories on social media using the hashtag #MomentsThatSurvive.
Tuesday, representatives from both groups will head to Indianapolis to advocate for a few bills in the Indiana legislature.
Stephen Miller, a local organizer, says the U.S. is facing an unprecedented amount of gun violence. He says the groups don’t want to infringe on anyone’s 2nd Amendment rights, instead they want to promote safety.
Miller says they support Indiana House Bills 1651 and 1040. HB 1651 would strengthen Indiana’s existing red flag law. HB 1040 would make it a crime for someone to store an unsecured and loaded firearm if the person knows, or should know, that a child is likely to gain access to it.
Miller says they’re against Indiana House Bills 1643 and 1284. HB 1643 would allow people to carry a loaded handgun at Indiana K-12 schools in connection with a worship service. HB 1284 would expand Indiana’s “Stand Your Ground” law.