There were 664 pairs of empty shoes laid out on the Capitol steps on the State Street side on Thursday, Aug. 9, each pair representing one of the Wisconsin men, women or children who were killed with guns in just one year in Wisconsin.
The purpose of the Silent March hosted by Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE). was to produce a public awareness action using shoes as a symbolic memorial of those lost to gun violence in Wisconsin and to create a call to action.
“When I look at these shoes, I see people whose lives have been needlessly and tragically cut short. I see a mom, who should be worried about back-to-school shopping for her children, and a young boy, who should be playing in a sprinkler or chasing lightning bugs,” said Jeri Bonavia, WAVE Educational Fund executive director. “I see all the suffering that goes with each of these pairs of shoes, and that makes it all the more despicable that, year after year, our lawmakers in Madison have failed to act. It’s wrong. It’s inhumane. And it must change.”
“We are creating this display at the Capitol because we want our elected officials to understand that the citizens of Wisconsin are going to be heading to the polls with gun violence prevention on their minds and in their hearts,” added Riley Reed, one of the WAVE Educational Fund interns. “Our current elected officials need to make a commitment to passing policies that will prevent gun violence and save lives, or we will simply vote for new elected officials who will.”
Speakers included Aalayah Eastmond, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student, Parkland, Fl; Kobey Lofton, West Chicago High School Junior, co-founder of ChiStrong and Vice President of Peace Warriors; Skylar Phillips, Arrowhead High School student and WAVE student intern from Milwaukee; Riley Reed, DePaul University Freshman and WAVE student intern from Milwaukee; Pam Reed, Student Intern Parent; Destiny DeVooght, UWM Freshman and WAVE student intern from Milwaukee; Ken Mejia-Beal, a gun violence survivor; and Chase Terrier, End Abuse Wisconsin’s Public Policy Coordinator.