Wear Orange event confronts pain of gun violence, promotes safety and awareness

About 40 people, many wearing orange T-shirts and accessories, drank orange drinks and ate orange food while they played and socialized on a beautiful evening Saturday at Columbus Park.

The Wear Orange event had a serious purpose, however: to build awareness of gun violence in an effort to reduce it.

Dan and Mary Beth Jackson said gun violence hasn’t hit their family directly — but they are concerned nonetheless.

School shootings elsewhere in the country and other forms of gun violence in the Omaha area make them fear for their grandchildren, including Laurel Jackson, who was at Saturday’s observance with them.

“It’s sad we have to worry about this,” Mary Beth said.

Naomi Hattaway, who leads the state chapter of Moms Demand Action, said the Wear Orange event was not about stricter gun laws but about ending gun violence through safety and awareness.

“We 100 percent respect the Second Amendment,” Hattaway said.

Other organizations represented at the Wear Orange event included Indivisible Nebraska, which was formed to resist President Donald Trump’s agenda; Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands, a mentoring program; Grief’s Journey, which supports grieving adults and children; Latino Center of the Midlands; and the Moms Demand Action’s Be SMART program, a campaign to reduce suicides and accidental shootings by preventing children’s access to unsecured guns.

Wear Orange events were organized across the country this weekend. They began about four years ago, inspired by friends of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton of Chicago, who was shot to death in 2013.

In Omaha, the Woodmen Tower was lit orange.