The Unitarian Universalist Church of Utica was invited to a rally held by ICAN (Integrated Community Alternatives Network https://ican.family/programs/ ) and SNUG (“guns” spelled backwards < https://ican.family/search?q=SNUG>) in response to the most recent gun death in Cornhill.
The Neighborhood Pastor says, “I’m tired of burying young men and boys killed by gun violence!” He asks the crowd, “How many of you have lost somebody to gun violence?” More than eight people raised their hands. A neighbor says, “I am worried about the children here. Scared for them all. And tired of ducking when I hear a shot. No more gun violence!” A third neighbor, a young woman shared that she was the first to come to the victim’s side and to call 911 She and her mom tried to save his life. She told how that night the police came into her house to remove a stray bullet from the surface of her 12 year old sister’s bedroom wall. Maybe 6 miles from our church? Not hearing the shot does not remove us from the
need to care and respond.
There are now 14 places in New York State where ICAN/SNUG organizers support communities suffering from gun violence. Utica is one of them. There are many services these organizations bring to the traumatized communities, and a goal to build awareness and response from the larger community – us.
Rev. Karen Brammer spoke for the church saying that while few of us may live in Cornhill, we are all connected to the racist systems that create and support this kind of violence. We want to learn what it means to support our neighbors. We intend to show up when we are called. We hope we don’t get called to respond to another gun related death anytime soon. But we will respond when invited to help.
Let’s keep our hearts open, ready to learn and step up when asked. Stay tuned.