Wearing Orange has a Different, Deeper Meaning for Those Raising Awareness of Gun Violence

Jun 2, 2016

The impact of gun violence in is seen and heard on a regular basis in Syracuse.  Parents Rita and John Fredette know this firsthand.  Their son Joshua was killed in 2005.

"A monster stole the breath away from my son," Rita Fredette said.   "No matter what we all do to stop  and impact violence, that cannot heal my heart.  

"How do you get well?  I don't know," John Fredette said.  "Every day is yesterday, July 2, 2005."

Mayor Stephanie Miner proclaims June 2 as "Gun Violence Awareness Day" in Syracuse. The city joined the national #wearorange campaign to highlight the impact of gun violence across the country.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

  The Fredettes joined other community members and elected officials wearing orange Thursday to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

The “Syracuse Truce” initiative is one of many programs that aims to reduce gun violence by reaching out to local gangs.  Mayor Stephanie Miner believes in the positive effects of the program.

"While TRUCE is working, what we need to ultimately cure this is we need everyone to say violence and gun violence is unacceptable, and we will we be part of the solution," Miner said.

"One life is too many” is the rallying cry for those trying to stop the violence throughout the city. Common Councilor Helen Hudson emphasizes action beyond public policy.  

"You can use every thing that you have to try to eradicate this," Hudson said.  "But until we can get into the psyche of these young people...the city can't do that.  It's the psyche of the young people, and that's where the community, the parents, everybody has to be involved."

Fresh in everyone’s mind as they spoke out against gun violence was the 15-year-old boy charged with the murder this week of Tabarrie Tillie.  John Fredette drew connections between the boy and his deceased son Joshua as part of the same cycle of violence.

Rita Fredette lost her son Joshua to gun violence in 2005.
Credit John Smith / WAER News

"This child was four years old when Joshie's life was taken," Fredette said.  "How in the course of 11 years could this little boy become a predator?"

There have been 13 reported gun deaths in Syracuse this year.  But activists continue to hold out hope for a solution, leading a prayer at the end of the event for all those effected.  

"We need our young people, Lord.  We know what you put them here for.  It's not to take each other away, not to take lives, Lord."

More than 100 mayors in 31 states joined more than 300 corporations and partner organizations nationwide for national gun violence awareness day and the WearOrange campaign.