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Hundreds of White women gather at Colorado Capitol after plea from women of color to use their ‘privilege’ to demand action on gun violence | #schoolsaftey




CNN
 — 

Hundreds of White women gathered at the Colorado Capitol Monday morning, with more expected to show up throughout the day, to use their “privilege” in a silent sit-in to demand Gov. Jared Polis ban guns and create a gun buyback program.

The sit-in also comes amid a national debate over gun control and nearly two months after Polis signed into law four gun control bills, including one to expand the state’s red flag law.

Jeremy Harlan/CNN

Protesters gather in Denver to call for strict gun laws.

Here4TheKids, a movement created after a mass shooting in Nashville in March left six people dead, including three children, calls for primarily White women to peacefully sit-in until Polis, a Democrat, signs an executive order banning guns. It was founded by two women of color, Saira Rao, who is South Asian American, and Tina Strawn, who is Black. Both are mothers.

Strawn told CNN the movement calls for White women to be at the forefront of the sit-in because, “we know what happens when we show up with demands.”

“We know what happens when we show up in large numbers to fight for our rights. We’ve been doing it for generations. We’re always the ones whose bodies are in the most danger and at the most risk,” Strawn, an author and owner of the “Speaking of Racism” podcast said.

“So, it appealed to me very much that this was actually a time where we are asking Black folks and other marginalized and vulnerable communities to sit this one out and allow the White women and their privileged bodies, their privilege, and their power to show up. It’s time for them to show up,” Strawn added.

The movement has garnered support from the entertainment industry, including from White actresses Amy Schumer, Michaela Watkins and Lake Bell.

Watkins, who showed up at the Colorado Capitol early Monday morning and plans to stay until late in the evening, told CNN her initial response to the call to action for mainly White women to participate was, “What? Just White women? That sounds just exclusive,” but she understood what the founders meant.

“White women, statistically, have been the least likely to be arrested, assaulted by police officers and so we just said, ‘OK.’ If marginalized communities have been just traumatized over and over and over again I guess we just come together,” Watkins told CNN as cars drove by and honked in support of the protest. “We are the biggest voting block in this country. We do have power, we just forget that and we have been conditioned to forget that.”

She also said, “For me, it was very confronting, it was like, ‘I am an activist, but am I really willing to put myself on the line?’” when asked what was her response to other White women who feel uncomfortable with the movement.

“If someone says, ‘I don’t understand why I have to be there,’ they don’t have to be here. But if you feel you are over it, over this incredible horror that we are facing, literally every single day, then you should come here.”

There have been at least 276 mass shootings in the US this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people are shot, excluding the shooter. Colorado has suffered several mass shootings since the deadly Columbine High School shooting in 1999, including a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs in November.

In 2021, firearms accounted for nearly 19% of deaths for those aged 1-18, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wonder database, and nearly 3,600 children died in gun-related incidents that year. The gun violence, particularly school shootings, has Wolf Terry, a volunteer with the movement who is also White, nervous for her five-year-old, who is autistic.

“If my child is even in a lockdown drill he will not be able to stomach it, to handle it, to participate in it without having a meltdown,” Terry, told CNN. “If there was an active shooter at his school he would be the first to be shot alongside his classmates because he would be loud and he’d be scared and he wouldn’t be able to control his response to the situation. And so every day, that’s what sticks with me … this is apolitical, it affects everyone.”

The executive order Here4TheKids has proposed for Polis to sign calls for the governor to “ban the use, loading, possession or carrying of all firearms in Colorado, including but not limited to firearms for personal protection, hunting, law enforcement or any otherwise lawful purpose” and create a statewide gun buyback program.

A spokesperson for Polis said the governor’s staff has met with the organizers of the group and “have expressed concerns that the requests being made are either unconstitutional or require legislative action.”

“The Governor takes the weighty responsibility of executive action and the trust Coloradans placed in him to govern responsibly seriously, and will not issue an unconstitutional order that will be struck down in court simply to make a public relations statement – he will continue to focus on real solutions to help make Colorado one of the ten safest states,” the spokesperson said in a statement to CNN. “These individuals’ calls to improve safety and prevent gun violence through their specific requests for an executive order banning all guns would simply be unconstitutional.”

Both Rao and Strawn said lawmakers have failed to curb gun violence and when asked if the new gun control laws in Colorado were a start, Rao said “no” because despite current state laws aimed to prevent them, gun deaths still persist.

“State legislation does not work. Why? Because guns can cross state lines, you can print guns on 3D printers,” Rao said. “State legislation is not working. It’s just not working, it doesn’t matter what it is.”



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