Moms Demand Action rally in honor of high school teen killed
By Nik Perry
EL DORADO, Ark. – Community members and students came together for a Moms Demand Action rally in honor of El Dorado High School student and Wildcat football player Octavius ‘Tay’ Critton on Aug. 17.
Police started an investigation after Critton was found dead following a shooting in his neighborhood. Critton, 17, was an incoming senior and varsity cornerback for the El Dorado Wildcats. Critton’s case is still under investigation.
The rally, attended by students and community members, offered a safe place to talk about ways to prevent gun violence, like the incident that claimed Critton.
The rally included 100 seconds of silence in recognition of the statistic from everytownresearch.org stating that 100 people are killed every day due to gun violence. Candles were lit and participants were encouraged to think of those they know affected by gun violence. Those attending the rally held at Mattocks Park, included Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer, who spoke on how gun violence has impacted our city.
“It is a people issue. They feel like a life isn’t worth anything anymore,” Creer said. “People kill so much, that [life] is almost worth nothing anymore. One hundred people are lost daily due to gun violence.”
Ward 3 Alderman Willie McGhee, founder of the Stop the Violence movement in El Dorado, spoke of how gun violence has affected him and those close to him.
“Dropping my son off at school in the morning, it makes me feel like I’m sending him off to a war zone armed with only a backpack,” McGhee said.
He continued by saying that rallies like these are for the children, not for them to necessarily attend, but to protect them. McGhee also said, “We get so caught up in the Second Amendment, we forget how long ago it was written.” He explained that times have changed, and the threats that amendment was intended to protect against have changed as America has changed.
“We as Americans are almost too smart to figure out this problem. We know our laws and stick to them, but we fail to see the length of time between when it was written and now,” he said.
The rally was hosted by Kelly Reyes, a Washington Middle School teacher, who is an active member of the Moms Demand Action group. Moms Demand Action lobbies for causes to prevent violence that the youth of America is becoming accustomed to. She referred to current events on the national level as part of the problem, referencing U. S. Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky).
Reyes said, “Mitch McConnell refused a bill on universal background checks on all guns,” she said. “The people in office should listen to us, because 93% of people agree that they would vote for universal background checks on guns.”
For more information on Moms Demand Action and their rallies, visit www.momsdemandaction.org. Reyes said the group is in the process of also building a local Students Demand Action chapter, that encourages younger activists to speak up about ways to stop the violence.
Editor’s Note: Feature Photo – El Dorado High School students and community members listen to others tell how they have been affected by gun violence in their communities. EHS students helped organize and advertise the Moms Demand Action Recess Rally on Aug. 17, painting posters and handing out fliers for the event. Photo by Nik Perry