Kalamazoo Advocates Honor Victims of Gun Violence

Feb 25, 2019

Dorothy Johnson-Speight visits the grave of her son, Khaaliq Jabbar Johnson, in Philadelphia on Monday, May 9, 2016. Johnson was killed in a shooting in 2001
Credit Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Earlier this month, several Kalamazoo-area advocacy groups came together to honor the memory of those who have died from gun violence. 

The Annual Service of Remembrance and Action is in its fifth year. Reverend Linda MacDonald is one of the event’s organizers.

“What this service is about is assuring everybody that their loved one is remembered, and that they are remembered as a family member, and that together we have a way that we can work, so that their loved one will not have died in vain.”

MacDonald says that gun violence survivors and those who have lost someone often feel isolated. Events like the Service of Remembrance and Action are places where those affected can be a part of a supportive community.

“I think the thing about gun violence of any kind, whether its suicide or somebody dying in a homicide situation, or an unintentional shooting, is that at some level, the people left behind feel that they should have been able to stop it,” MacDonald says. “And so they feel shame about it, they’re afraid to talk about it. Our society doesn’t want people to talk about it, the gun lobby doesn’t want anybody talking about it, that’s for sure.”

MacDonald is also a part of the local Mom’s Demand Action group, that started just before the mass shooting in Kalamazoo County in 2016. MacDonald says violence in the United States continues, and noted events that took place prior to this month’s service.

“We planned this service a number of weeks ago, and before we even had the service, before we’ve even commemorated Parkland, we’ve had Aurora, Illinois, had a mass killing at a business, and we’ve had a mass killing in Mississippi, that was on Friday.”

MacDonald says people interested in the issue should join a local gun safety group. She says many organizations can be found at Everytown.org.