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Marchers seek end to gun violence

GUNS tipis.jpg
Victoria Wicks

People alarmed by gun violence demonstrated Saturday, June 4, in Rapid City, gathering in a parking lot in North Rapid and marching to Memorial Park for a rally. The event was sponsored by an indigenous organization called commUNITY, who were joined by individuals and members of other groups such as Democracy in Action.

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Victoria Wicks
Rain doesn't stop the march against gun violence in Rapid City.

Along Fifth Street and over the bridge to Omaha Street, drivers honk to support protesters, some who carry photos of local children who died from gun violence.

One of the marchers is Lupe Jaso from Pine Ridge.

“Usually, people are yelling at these types of things like this, but this is a silent walk,” he said. “All you have to do is hold pictures up. There’s babies in all these pictures that you see right now.”

Jaso organized the “United to End Gun Violence Walk and Ceremony” because of a spate of violent deaths in his family.

“I lost a 14-year-old, a 6-year-old, and a 10-year-old cousin, back to back, in three weeks, so children are dying right now and I kinda got tired of it,” he said.

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Victoria Wicks
Lupe Jaso organized the walk to honor children in his family killed by gun violence.

Jaso said the local tragedies mirror the constant national news reports of mass shootings, often carried out by teenagers.

The 42-year-old organizer said potential shooters often post online messages carrying threats of violence, and some of those shooters could be stopped if online followers took the messages seriously.

“If you see anything like this on social media, anywhere, anybody even talking about playing about it, talk to somebody about it, an adult,” he said. “Because sometimes, especially in this world that we live in now, there’s a lot of youth hurting. They’re lost. They feel that there’s nobody there to stand behind them, when there’s people out there that actually care that will stand behind them and rise up to whatever call they need.”

Jaso said this demonstration was pulled together quickly, but he hopes it is just the first of many more events to protest gun violence and try to find solutions.

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Victoria Wicks
At the corner of Fifth and Omaha, police stopped traffic to allow the marchers to cross through the busy intersection. Here, they wait for the last two people.

Rapid City freelancer Victoria L. Wicks has been producing news for SDPB since August 2007.