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Each cross represents a gun death in Hartford since 2005  - Photo credit: Peter Olson

We are Newtown! We are Hartford! We are Bridgeport, New Haven, Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, and Washington. D.C. Gun violence does not discriminate based on race, religion, or socioeconomic status. It impacts small rural towns and big cities just the same.  

In the 60 miles from the Sandy Hook Elementary School to the streets of Hartford, my eyes opened to the plight of our inner cities, where deaths from guns occur all too often. I met moms and dads who lost their sons because someone had a gun and pulled the trigger. I did not know anything about their loved ones or how they were killed. I do now. Yet, for months, all they heard about was Newtown. No one was talking about their loved ones.

Rev. Sam Saylor  - Photo credit Peter Olson
Almost 2 months before 12/14, Rev. Sam Saylor's son Oliver, age 20, was murdered by another 20-year-old who "shot him down cold in his back...Emptied his gun into his back and wanted to shoot his friend, but ran out of bullets." The killer did not have a permit for his weapon. I did not know Shane, or any of the other victims of gun violence in Hartford. I do now. Shane had two sisters, two step-sisters and was engaged to be married. Yesterday, in Hartford, we marched with his parents and their community. As Rev. Saylor said so eloquently yesterday in front of the Capitol, as Jay Clark and I from Team 26, and Darren Wagner of Newtown Action Alliance stood behind him, and all of the Newtowners who rode the bus to the rally stood in front of him, his tears are no different than the tears of the fathers of Newtown. His pain and suffering is no different. We are all Newtown. We are all Hartford. We are brothers and sisters in this fight for justice.

I was proud to stand with Rev. Saylor, Rev. Henry Brown, U.S. Senator Blumenthal, Governor Malloy, Mayor Segarra, Henrietta Beckman, and other community leaders.  I was honored to speak.

Jay Clark and I began our journey from Sandy Hook at 7:00. It was about 29 degrees and pretty darn cold, but a peaceful morning in tranquil Sandy Hook. I tweeted:

We rode a short distance to the Sandy Hook Firehouse and stopped to reflect. An almost full moon was still in the sky as I gazed at the 26 stars which adorned the roof of the firehouse.  

We rode through Connecticut towns - Southbury, Woodbury, Watertown, Thomaston, Bristol, Farmington, West Hartford

Bristol Reservoir:

We rode by farms and orchards. Beautiful roads and historic greens.  

We arrived at the corner of Albany and Main in Hartford just as the March began.  We rode alongside the March and then hopped off our bikes and joined the procession - Newtown and Hartford communities marching together through the streets of Hartford. We chanted "Justice." We sang spiritual songs of freedom. We talked.  

We stopped at City Hall and we prayed:

Along the route, I met moms and dads who have endured the pain and suffering of losing their children to gun violence. Like the Newtown community, they share the need to get it done. Unlike Newtown, however, they have endured gun violence for a long time, and it continues. Unlike Newtown, their childrens' murders have not generated a national outpouring. Unlike Newtown, President Obama has not travelled to their community to console them. But that is all different now. Newtown and Hartford now speak as one voice carrying the same message of peace, hope and love and demanding the same common sense measures to end this madness.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal  - Photo credit: Peter Olson
When we arrived at the Capitol, Senator Blumenthal, Governor Malloy and a representative from Senator Murphy's office spoke. They have led with passion and conviction. We are days away from strong legislation in Connecticut thanks to Governor Malloy's strong leadership. That legislation will allow Senator Blumenthal and Senator Murphy to pedal harder in the Senate. Senator Blumenthal is committed to get us votes on all of the bills and amendments including the Assault Weapons Ban. He will also introduce a separate amendment on high capacity magazines. We are grateful for their leadership.
I spoke with new and old friends standing behind me.  I gazed out at the Connecticut Effect - still growing. I concluded with "Let's Get It Done." And the crowd then chanted: "Let's Get It Done, Let's Get It Done, Let's Get it Done....."  Photo credit: Peter Olson
Shortly after, my friend Darren Wagner spoke and pointed to the pile of crosses. That's a community, he powerfully cried. Is this our America? Is this the best we can do? I don't think so.  


Originally posted to MonteFrank on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 06:25 AM PDT.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA) and Shut Down the NRA.

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