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'This cannot be the norm:' Moms Demand Action honors gun violence victims during wear orange weekend

Throughout the first weekend of June, people are wearing orange to raise awareness around gun violence.

ST. LOUIS — Members from Moms Demand Action came together to honor those who have lost their lives to gun violence. 

The group gathered together on the heels of 'National Gun Violence Awareness Day.'

Throughout the first weekend of June, people wore orange to raise awareness around gun violence.

Advocates call it 'Wear Orange Weekend.' It's a movement that started in 2013. The color symbolizes the value of each person's life.

While it's a campaign that only comes once a year, it's a conversation those with Moms Demand Action in St. Louis believe should happen daily.

Niadu Allen, with Moms Demand Action, said everything doesn't have to end in gun violence.

"This cannot be the norm. I'm not going through this again, so I'm going to fight to do whatever I can to stop this," she said.

Allen wore a button that said "survivor" on it. Something she never dreamed she'd have to wear.

"It hurts because it's almost like we're reacting instead of (taking action) before this happens," she said.

Allen lost both her sister and daughter to gun violence.

"I do not want this cycle to repeat itself from sister to daughter now to grandkids, so I'm fighting not only for my generation but the next generation," she said.

Allen was joined by a sea of fighters wearing orange inside Pilgrim Congregational Church on Saturday morning.

Survivor after survivor took the podium to talk about the pain, they endured losing a loved one by someone else pulling a trigger.

Among them Michael Brown Sr., the father of Michael Brown Jr. who lost his life in 2014, after being shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer.

"People say they've healed, they've moved on. Not everyone moves on," he said.

This issue of gun violence is something advocates, like Tonya McCaw, believe has only gotten worse.

"Our kids don't have anything to do and all they can do is run around in the streets. They're not having the right guidance from their mothers and their parents," she said.

A part of the conversation was Major Renee Kriesmann, with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, who said the department wants to be a part of the change.

"We all have to work together, and we need your help. We can't do this without each of you," she said.

At the foot of the altar sat a pot of flowers with ribbons attached. The names of gun violence victims filling each string, proving to Allen, she's not wearing her "survivor" button alone.

"We're all on a bridge of hope. We're all here helping one another to heal, to love, to move forward," Allen said.

Leaders with Moms Demand Action said they're working to hold meetings each month that focus on healing and change.

Allen said the group is also pushing to change gun laws and get more mental health classes into high schools.

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