Knoxville, Dobson turn out for Gun Violence Awareness Day

“Innocent lives matter. Our kid’s lives matter. Our lives matter,” says Zenobia Dobson, mother of the late Zaevion Dobson, at Mom’s Demand Action’s picnic for Gun Violence Awareness Day last Saturday.

Dobson, president of the Zaevion Dobson Foundation, was joined by other activists and community organizers at West Hills Park on Saturday to raise awareness for gun violence.

“Sometimes I’m lost for words. My life changed when I saw my baby boy murdered in a senseless act of gun violence.”

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Zenobia Dobson wrote a message on the sidewalk to remember her son.

Dobson said she’s committed to ending gun violence in her community and said her son’s life should be an inspiration for others to stand up and make communities safer. School programs, local hospitals, and first responders all have resources for education and safety from gun violence, according to Dobson. A number of “gun sense” candidates were also in attendance, including Jaime Ballinger, who is running for state senate, and Joshua Williams and Renee Hoyos, who are running for Knoxville’s federal representative seat.

“We are here to lift each other up and create a future free of gun violence,” organizer Lisa Plawchan said.

Community organizer Andre Canty said gun violence is “as normal as apple pie,” but said he hopes people could make change in the culture.

“In the 1950s and the 1960s, they were going through a lot worse, getting killed in the streets, getting hung, lynched, but people stepped up, no matter what the danger was and made things happen,” Canty said.

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Andre Canty asks the crowd to not count on any power, but to take power themselves.

Canty also said that the civil rights movement took many years before it was established in American society and that ending gun violence will be no different.

“I know that no matter how our White House is, no matter how our state legislature is, we’ve got people that are willing to work. Politicians alone are not going to make this happen. It’s up to the people.”

Dobson said that “Society has failed our youth,” and that all children have a right to be safe in their neighborhoods. Canty said he saw many young people at the March for Our Lives that inspire him to keep pushing for change.

“The young people are not going to be talked to anymore. They’re going to be talked with. In fact, we are going to listen to them.”

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Attendees formed a chain to remember victims of gun violence.

The day is also known as National Wear Orange Day because it is the colors hunters wear to be seen clearly and avoid danger.