By Mary Wadland
ALEXANDRIA,VA- On Monday, August 12, the second anniversary of the 2017 Charlottesville murder of paralegal and civil rights activist Heather Heyer, a special event honoring her citizenship and those who were killed and injured in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio was held by a new Alexandria-based gun violence prevention non-profit called Safer Country in the memorial tree grove at Chinquapin Park in Alexandria.
The non-partisan gathering of approximately 60 people was hosted by Safer Country’s founder and Executive Director, Paul Friedman, and one of its board members, Boyd Walker. It featured speeches by Rep. Don Beyer (VA-8), Delegates Charniele Herring (HD-46) and Mark Levine (HD- 45), Alexandria Councilman Mo Seifeldein, Rabbi Jack Moline, Executive Director, Interfaith Alliance, Luis Aguilar, Virginia Director, CASA and Dreamer, and Gene Rossi, President, Safer Country.
There were moving and unique performances by singer Tamara Wellons and her husband, guitarist Kinard Cherry of “America the Beautiful” and “We Shall Overcome,” which closed the evening amidst a candle light vigil as darkness fell.
Friedman is the former Executive Director of VTV Family Outreach Foundation, and it was while he was with that group that he worked with the City of Alexandria and Virginia Tech’s local graduate schools to create the Chinquapin Park Memorial Tree Grove to honor the 32 killed and 17 injured by gunfire at the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy.
Safer Country is dedicated to strengthening the background check system by improving the reporting of prohibited names by states and the federal government. For more information, contact Paul Friedman at [email protected].