Sporting orange for safety

An Awareness for a Safe Community event was held at Junction City's Heritage Park last weekend. Mary Snipes organized the event to raise awareness about the challenges those who have lost loved ones face. Supporters wore orange to honor Snipes' son — Felix Snipes, who died after a shooting at 2306 Wildcat Lane on Aug. 31, 2018 — and others who have lost their lives due to gun violence and other acts of violence.

After losing her son, Felix Snipes, to a shooting in late August of 2018, Mary Snipes has been a tireless advocate against gun violence.

She started a chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America in Junction City, a group which advocates gun laws and offers support to survivors of shootings such as herself.

This year, one of Snipes’ events is moving online due to COVID-19.

June 6, a special virtual meeting will take place to celebrate Wear Orange Weekend.

In order to take part in the event, people will need to register for it in advance. After registration, people will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to take part in the event.

To register for the local event, go to wearorange.org, select Kansas, and look for information about local events.

Snipes has no idea how many people will choose to take part in the virtual meeting — if it being online will increase or decrease attendance.

“It is so important to hold an event like this,” she said. “Mainly right now, due to the Junction City Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Students Demand Action, other chapters around the United States — everybody is hosting a virtual community event online.”

It matters to Snipes that this event takes place to bring awareness in the local community to bring the community together to promote safety and make the community a better place.

“Hopefully, we can bring communities together online by doing this virtual event with neighbors, students, law makers, law enforcement, and community leaders," Snipes said. "Gun violence doesn't stop because of coronavirus and neither does the movement to stop it. We want to continue to educate, organize, support and rally for the safer communities.”

Domestic violence doesn’t stop because of quarantine, she said.

Women across the country have been forced to shelter in their homes alongside their domestic abusers.

It is just as important now, Snipes said, to advocate for safer communities.

The events of the night of her son’s death come back to her often, she said. It never really leaves her, but recent events in the national news — such as the shooting of jogger Ahmaud Arbery by two white men — have rubbed certain raw spots in Snipes' memories.

“I want to continue to bring awareness,” Snipes said. “As I’ve said, over and over again — I won’t stop … I will continue to be (Felix’) voice."

This year’s event is the second Wear Orange Weekend event held by the local chapter of Moms Demand Action.

The national Wear Orange Weekend will take place June 5 through 7.

People in Junction City are welcome to wear orange and decorate their lawns in orange during that first weekend in June.

Wear Orange Weekend is an event held yearly in honor of Hadiya Pendleton, a child who was shot to death at the age of 15 in Chicago in 2013, shortly after performing at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration parade.

“The color orange has a long and proud history in the gun violence movement,” Snipes said.

The color has become a signature in the gun violence prevention movement.

"Whether it’s worn by students in Montana, activists in New York, or Hadiya’s loved ones in Chicago, the color orange honors the more than 100 lives cut short and the hundreds more wounded by gun violence everyday,” according to wearorange.org.

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