Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rally for Public Safety & Against Gun Violence . WDC . 27 August 2006

The International Action Network on Small Arms is the global network of civil society organisations working to stop the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons (SALW). World attention is increasingly focused on the humanitarian impact of these weapons, and IANSA brings together the voices and activities of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and concerned individuals across the world to prevent their deadly effects.

In January 2006 the Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced a $51M program to fight gun violence. Prompted by the shooting death of 15-year-old bystander Jane Creba in a Boxing Day gunfight on Yonge Street Creba's death, which occurred in the midst of a federal election campaign, brought the issue of gun violence in Canada's largest city into sharp focus. Where fifty-two of Toronto's 78 homicides in 2005 involved guns.

In an effort to address the issues of public safety and gun violence affecting the District of Columbia, all mayoral, council chair, and council at large candidates were invited to Freedom Plaza on Sunday, 27 August 2006, from 10 am until 6 pm to a Rally for Public Safety and Against Gun Violence during which time Kenneth E. Barnes, Sr. CEO and Founder of ROOT Inc. presented findings from research that indicate youth affected by gun violence and homocide are not receiving proper intervention to address these issues.

In fact, it had been the week before that Mr. Barnes and an unprecidented coalition of concerned groups would hold Congressional Hearings on Capitol Hill with several Congressional staffers pertaining to the same findings. It had also been in January 2005 that Mr. Barnes would give a similar testimony at the Joint Public Oversight Hearing on Juvenile Homicides in the District of Columbia. And as he would do, again, in December 2005 at the Council Of The District Of Columbia Public Oversight Hearing, Special Committee On The Prevention Of Youth Violent Crime.

In January 2006 ROOT, Inc proclaimed the month of January Guns Aside month in the District of Columbia. During which time and reaching more than 2000 students, ROOT hosted Guns Aside Assemblies with the entire student bodies of several schools in Washington, DC.

On 30 -31 Janaury 2006 ROOT hosted two youth forums at the University of the District of Columbia on January 30 and 31, at which, over 400 youth were in attendance from Anacostia High School, Charles Hart Middle School, Patricia R. Harris Educational Center, Boys and Girls Club of Germantown, and Oak Hill Academy.

IANSA Director, Rebecca Peters says that 'Gun violence is a human rights issue,'. When commenting on why he had met with Congressional staffers on Capitol Hill and why he has made his fight a national campaign, Kenneth Barnes, Founder and CEO of ROOT, says "... gun violence is a matter of public safety. Not just in DC and America, but, throughout the world.'

Though I did not attend the entire event when I did arrive near its conclusion Anthony Murrill, founder of X2Rep (Time To Represent), was on stage and engaging in a 'call and response' with a young boy vowed to "stay away from guns".

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