GNV community groups gather to remember Owens  

Vigil attendees light candles outside GNV Bridge Community Center.
Vigil attendees light candles outside GNV Bridge Community Center.
Photo by Seth Johnson

Community members held a vigil on Wednesday at the Gainesville Bridge Community Center in memory of Ajike “A.J.” Owens and other victims of gun violence.  

Owens, 35, died exactly two months ago in Ocala when her neighbor, Susan Lorincz, 53, shot Owens through Lorincz’s front door. After four days, law enforcement arrested and charged Lorincz with manslaughter.  

At Wednesday’s vigil, state Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson, D-Gainesville, said Lorincz should have been arrested immediately. She also called the shooting a racist act from the white Lorincz against the African American Owens.  

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“We are here to call out those who dismiss blatant racism as the trigger of A.J.’s death,” Hinson said. “Let us set this record straight once again. A.J. was murdered by a racist woman who felt enabled by ‘stand your ground’, the recent permitless carry legislation and her own privilege to shoot an unarmed mother through her front door.” 

Vigil attendees light candles outside GNV Bridge Community Center.
Photo by Seth Johnson Vigil attendees light candles outside GNV Bridge Community Center.

Hinson said the state attorney should bring murder two and hate crime charges for the shooting.  

Several community groups had members speak, including the Against All Odds movement, Beyond Grieving, the Greater Duval Neighborhood Association, M.A.M.A.’s Club, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense and the Alachua County branch of the NAACP.  

Speakers touched on the grieving process, legislation, the importance of voting and their own experiences with gun violence. The vigil included poems, a song, part of a play and an interpretive dance.  

Chanae Jackson, a community organizer, listed the names of gun violence victims from across the country, including two killed in downtown Gainesville on Sunday.  

Tonya Edwards leads in a song before ending the vigil.
Photo by Seth Johnson Tonya Edwards leads in a song before ending the vigil.

At the close of the vigil, members gathered outside to light candles and sing before calling out the names of loved ones and friends killed by gun violence.    

Moms Demand Action had forms to sign and encouraged donating to the Owens’ family.  

Rebecca Darnell, legislative lead for Moms Demand Action, said the group continues educating on state gun laws, hoping to repeal the “Stand Your Ground” law that played a role in charging Lorincz along with the recent permitless carry law. 

Darnell said education is a main part since people aren’t always aware of what the Legislature is discussing. She points to confusion at the state level where the permitless carry bill, which went into effect on July 1, passed through the state House, Senate and governor with the title of “Public Safety.”  

She said local commissioners have taken the issue seriously and that education is increasing.  

“I think Mayor Ward is very aware,” Darnell said. “This is a top priority for him. Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker—she’s one of the leaders of the summit that will occur next weekend. And so yes, I think that the awareness has been raised and certainly in Alachua County.” 

The city of Gainesville is hosting a Gun Violence Prevention Summit this Sunday and Monday after declaring gun violence a public health crisis earlier this year. However, city commissioners have also noted that the state legislature has blocked municipalities from taking many actions on the issue. 

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Mike

So sorry for their losses.
Remember – the first step to fixing a problem is to recognize the problem.
Guns don’t commit crimes, criminals do.
The phrase “gun violence” is a marketing term that obfuscates the real problem.

Marnie

Guns don’t kill people, people with guns who shouldn’t have guns kill people. People with guns that were stolen from cars in which owners had irresponsibly left unsecured guns kill people. Kids who get a hold of their parents’ guns that weren’t securely stored kill themselves or other people. People who are in crisis and have easy, quick access to a gun kill themselves. People with guns who may feel they have nothing left to lose because their lives haven’t been valued by our society from the start kill people. White people with guns who do not consider Black people’s lives to have as much value as their own comfort or fear kill people. People who own guns but haven’t bothered to get the training they should have (and now are no longer required to have) to handle the gun safely kill people. People with guns and hate in their hearts for entire groups of people kill people. People who commit intimate partner violence and have guns kill their partners and often go on to kill others. Seems like there are some things we could be addressing here . . .

Last edited 11 months ago by Marnie
Mike

I notice you left out a group. Black people with guns. The number of black people killed with guns is proportionally almost 12 times higher than white people killed with guns. Any guesses which racial or ethnic group is convicted of those killings more than any other?

Marnie

Because being Black by itself is not an explanation for gun violence. Unless you think there’s some kind of “gun violence gene” that only Black people have. Which is not something any rational person would believe.