During the same week that a 17-year-old boy from Illinois used an assault weapon to kill two protesters in Wisconsin, a group of Black Lives Matter activists marching from Milwaukee to Washington, D.C., for a just world has caught active gunfire–not once, but twice–in central Pennsylvania.
CeaseFire Pennsylvania Education Fund, Pennsylvania’s leading statewide gun violence prevention organization, condemns the vigilante violence that has engulfed the nation and this Commonwealth this week, and calls upon lawmakers in both arenas to pass meaningful legislation to prevent these types of actions.
One of the protesters was hospitalized due to injuries he sustained during the first shooting on Monday night in Juniata Township. The second shooting, which did not result in injury, occurred on Tuesday when a convicted felon who is barred from owning a firearm began firing on the protesters in a Bedford Township Hampton Inn parking lot.
These events, separately and together, are more than just an assault on peaceful protesters—they are an assault on the foundation of our democracy.
“Fighting for racial justice is difficult and dangerous enough without citizen vigilantes opening fire on ordinary Americans exercising their civic responsibility to make the world a better place,” said Rob Conroy, CeaseFirePA’s organizing director. “While someone dying or being injured is the worst possible outcome, these assaults—even when taken at face value—demonstrate that the failure of our government to establish gun safety laws actively endangers our communities and works to weaken our democracy.”
According to Conroy, the Wisconsin shooter’s alleged membership in a white supremacist militia group is yet another tragic wrinkle in the fight for safer communities–one that illustrates the deadly intersection between hate and firearms.
“Regardless of race, gender, or religious beliefs, we believe that Americans are guaranteed the right to peacefully protest and pursue life, liberty, and happiness, all of which are being threatened by the actions of these armed individuals, “ Conroy continued. “We stand in solidarity with Black and Brown Americans calling for an end to race-based violence and with all Americans in the fight for safer communities from all forms of gun violence.”