Locals look to brighter future with ‘Wear Orange’ park clean-up

Mallory Pace, Government Reporter

The city of Jacksonville came together Saturday to clean up a local park and honor the lives taken from gun violence. 

As a part of National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 3 and Wear Orange Weekend, volunteers with the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, LISC Jacksonville, and Edward Waters University New Town Success Zone came together for a park clean-up at Success Park near Edward Waters University. 

Success Park was recently burned and has since become littered, worn down and unsafe for the kids in the community to use. 

The event honored the lives of loved ones affected by gun violence and brought awareness to gun violence prevention efforts. Members from multiple gun violence prevention groups spoke about the change that this community needs to demand and how members can come together to make it a better place.

Krystal Turner is a Jacksonville mother who lost two children in 2015 to gun violence in Columbus, Ohio. That has been the drive for Turner to continue fighting for both her grandchildren and people in her community to be able to live safely.  

Asked about her purpose for being a part of the park clean-up, Turner said her hope is that Success Park will be available to the community.  

“We shouldn’t have to be scared to come out to a park. Our kids should be able to come out and play,” she said. “We hope that this is just the beginning leg of making this community recognize that we are in this together by simply doing the first part of the clean-up.” 

Signs protesting against gun violence stand in Success Park during a volunteer clean-up event
Signs protesting against gun violence stand in Success Park during a volunteer clean-up event on Saturday, June 4, 2022. (Mallory Pace)

Turner also explained that the city of Jacksonville will put money back into the park to try and revitalize it and make it a place children can enjoy again. The park is located on the backside of Edward Waters University, and she hopes the park can also become a place that university students can enjoy as well. 

“Kids shouldn’t feel like they have to be scared because somebody may come and shoot up the community,” Turner explained while talking about making parks a place for young children to enjoy. “So, when we think about gun violence, these are some of the ways you can prevent it; it is by creating an atmosphere that allows people to feel safe.”

Among the multiple gun violence prevention groups that attended, Moms Demand Action is the largest grassroots movement fighting for public policy that makes communities safer and reduces gun violence in America. 

Katie Hathaway is a lead volunteer in Jacksonville with Moms Demand Action for gun sense in America.  

Volunteers put their hands together during a 'Wear Orange' park clean-up event
Volunteers put their hands together during a ‘Wear Orange’ park clean-up event in Success Park on Saturday, June 4, 2022. (Mallory Pace)

Hathaway offered words of encouragement to college students and the younger generation about what they can do to join the movement and create change.

“Use your voice, use your vote, and I appreciate it when our youth lead us. We need you all. Please get involved and lead us into a safer future because your future depends on it,” she said.  

To learn more about how you can get involved, visit wearorange.org or Students Demand Action’s website. Donate to the park’s renovation project here


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