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McLean County Moms Demand Action launches violence intervention campaign

Orange shift hanging from clothesline
Jeffrey Smudde
Orange shirts hang from a clothesline during a Moms Demand Action event in Normal in June 2019.

In the wake of a rash of mass shootings across the country, a new initiative is underway in Bloomington-Normal to stop gun violence.

Dameca Kirkwood, a mom who lost her son to gun violence, created the concept of a new Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) center.

Karen Irvin, a leader with McLean County's Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense chapter, said the effort is funded through a $10,000 grant to the West Market Street Council and Moms Demand Action. The funds were awarded nationally by the Everytown for Gun Safety campaign.

Irvin said the campaign will feature a pop-up tent that will travel to gun safety events around the Bloomington-Normal area and give gun violence survivors a platform to speak about their experiences.

“We want to hear their stories. We want to put faces to the daily gun violence that doesn’t get the attention that the tragic and horrific mass shootings do,” Irvin said.

Irvin said telling stories about gun violence can be powerful.

Karen Irvin
Jeff Smudde
Karen Irvin

“Gun violence can impact a life, change a life in just a moment, but conversations can change gun violence,” Irvin said.

Moms Demand Action will provide details about the VIP campaign Saturday during the group’s “Wear Orange” event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Anderson Park in Normal.

“Wear Orange” is part of a national campaign from June 3-5 to raise awareness about the more than 110 people who are shot and killed daily and the hundreds more who are wounded, the group said in a news release.

A walk of remembrance around the park is scheduled for 11:55 a.m.

A VIP launch party is planned for 6 p.m. Saturday at Jazz Upfront in Bloomington.

Irvin noted the “Wear Orange” awareness campaign started following the shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton in Chicago at age 15, one week after she performed at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration in 2013.

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Corrected: June 3, 2022 at 5:11 PM CDT
WGLT corrected the story to indicate the VIP campaign was started by Demeca Kirkwood and was paid for through a grant to the West Market Street Council with support from Moms Demand Action.
Jack Podlesnik is a student reporter and announcer at WGLT. He joined the station in 2021.
Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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