By: Wilfredo “Wil” Rojas, M.Ed.
As the father of a son lost to homicide, I want to express my deepest and heartfelt condolences in the horrific deaths of all who perished and those injured in the mass shooting at the high school in Parkland, Florida. March is National Women’s History Month as Proclaimed perpetuity by the Congress of the United States in 1987. All the mothers of those murdered at that high school last month have the sympathetic support of this newspaper, the NAACP and its president Loretta Winters.
It is customary for elected officials and others to immediately express their thoughts and prayers to the families of victims in highly publicized homicides, whether a high profile individual or a mass shooting victim (s). As a regular citizen of New Jersey, I encourage all the brave women in that Southern Florida community to be strengthened and sustained by their faith. I want everyone reading this column to contact the mothers of the murdered and injured to let them know know that here in New Jersey, we have many mothers impacted by their pain and ready to join them in pressuring our lawmakers to immediately get to work on common sense gun laws and enforcement strategies to ensure compliance to keep our children and citizens safe.
In many communities, immediately after the senseless despicable act of murder of a loved one, we honor the victim by holding a vigil with candles, flowers, teddy bears and other memorial paraphilia at the site of the incident. With broken hearts and numbing pain we join relatives and friends, but then many walk away and may attend the funeral and/or burial, some may show up to support the family in court, others may stay in touch with the family to help them through the grieving process and provide a little financial support. Then what? While will all agree that homicide is not acceptable, how many will actually join the fight for common sense gun laws, crime prevention initiatives with our youth, partnering with police to help keep communities safe or assist in the search for a suspect? Some will, but most won’t.
What families of homicide victims usually find is a constant circular conversation around the homicide, and then pivot to start another circular conversation when another incident occurs. Enough is enough already with the homicides and mass shootings, we need effective citizens action to push for common sense legislation and enforce it to turn this homicide and mass shooting epidemic around, it can be done if you join organizations like the NAACP and the National Homicide Justice Alliance, Moms Demand Action, Ceasefire and other organizations fighting for stricter gun laws and more resources and advocacy for families who have who are speaking for those murdered who can’t speak for themselves. We cannot turn our heads, hide or run because one day, it may be your loved one to get murdered next.
If there is one woman who is ready to take on President Trump on the country’s gun policies that favor the NRA, it is Lori Alhadeff, mother of Allssa Alhadeff— who played on the high school’s soccer team and was killed in the attack. She has not minced any words in publicly calling out President Donald Trump.
Wilfredo “Wil” Rojas serves Communications Chair and special assistant to Loretta Winters, President of the Gloucester County NAACP