GNV community groups to host gun violence vigil  

A vigil will be held to honor Ajike “AJ” Owens and to protest gun violence on Wednesday at the GNV Bridge Community Center.
A vigil will be held to honor Ajike “AJ” Owens and to protest gun violence on Wednesday at the GNV Bridge Community Center.
Courtesy of GNV Bridge

A vigil will be held to honor Ajike “AJ” Owens and to protest gun violence by community groups in Alachua County.  

The vigil will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 2, at the GNV Bridge Community Center (1100 SE 17th Dr.).  

“As a community center and a church, our hearts break for those whose lives have been forever changed by gun violence,” said Amy Raburn, lead pastor of GNV Bridge in a press release. “Any part we can play in bringing awareness to this epidemic that is harming so many, is a cause we should all support.” 

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Owens, a black mother of four, was shot and killed on June 2 in Ocala by her white neighbor after her neighbor allegedly assaulted one of Owens’ children by throwing a pair of skates at them and saying racial slurs. When Owens and her 10-year-old son went to the neighbor’s home to confront her, the neighbor shot Owens through the locked front door. The neighbor, 58-year-old Susan Lorincz, is being charged with manslaughter and Owens’ family recently asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the case as a hate crime, according to the Black Information Network.  

“When I think of Ajike and how she risked her life to stand up for her children, I think of how my mom would have done the same for me,” said Essence Thomas, artistic director of the Against All Odds Movement, in a press release. “I believe in the power of community and love. We need one another. We are all we got. Whether we scream, laugh, dance, or shed tears, it all is a part of a hurting community's cry for a mother’s courage, one we all felt heavily in our hearts.” 

The vigil will feature speakers, dancing, poetry, and song, and will end with a candlelight vigil and call to action. 

Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense who is a black woman and a mother of four, said she was outraged over the incident.  
“Yet again, thanks to our country’s lax gun laws and hate-fueled violence, four children will grow up without a mother. All for what? Stand Your Ground laws and the ‘shoot first’ culture they instill continue to put Black people and people of color in danger. These laws empower shooters to instigate violence or act on unjustified fear – and then claim self-defense and avoid accountability.” 

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Gainesville Dad

Not mentioned in this article: According to Florida state attorney William Gladson, sworn statements from the child established that the skate Lorincz allegedly threw did not strike the child, a necessary element for a battery charge. Another child said he was not in fear, a required element of an assault charge. (source Fox35 Orlando). The victim and defendent had been feuding for over two years and the police had already come out on six other occasions (source

Don't take the law into your own hands, people. Call the police. Going over to someone's front door to angrily "confront" them by beating on their walls and windows of their home is only going to end it heartbreak. What was the 35yo victim going to do, break down the door and beat up this 58-yo lady? Was the 58yo supposed to just take it?

The Florida "stand-your-ground" statute states that a person in his or her dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle has the right to stand his or her ground and use or threaten to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes such force is necessary to prevent imminent death, great bodily harm, or prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

More than likely, Lorincz acted within the law. If cooler heads had prevailed, this could have been avoided.