Local organizations will host two Ypsi events to promote ending gun violence

Representatives from several Washtenaw County organizations will host two June events about nonviolence and gun safety in the greater Ypsilanti area.
Rochelle Igrisan, who serves as the Washtenaw County group lead for Moms Demand Action Against Gun Violence, saw the results of gun violence regularly as a pediatric nurse.

"When you see a little kid shot, you don't sleep real well," she says. 

Igrisan recently talked to pediatric residents about a survey that showed the most common age of children coming into the emergency room were 3-year-olds.

"They have dexterity, but no common sense," she says. "And they are strong enough to pull the trigger on a gun."

From kids accidentally discharging guns to suicide to school shootings, "anything that kills that many people is a public health issue," Igrisan says. That's why Moms Demand Action and representatives from several other organizations will host two June events about nonviolence and gun safety in the greater Ypsilanti area.

The events

Igrisan says that the local chapter of Moms Demand Action often tables at events hosted by others, but her organization is sponsoring the two upcoming events, with many other local groups invited to table at both. Organizations will be handing out gun locks, information about new gun laws, pamphlets, and stickers.

The first event hosted by Moms Demand Action and the Power of Predestiny (POP) Ministries takes place from 1-3 p.m. June 1 at the Huron Heights Apartments off LeForge Road in Ypsilanti Township. 

The event, aimed at about 260 families with young children living at the apartment complex, will feature 13 to 14 local organizations "focused on health and safety, literacy, and financial stabilization," Igrisan says. 

She says she wants the residents to know about resources like the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Ypsilanti District Library, and the Ann Arbor YMCA, and meet representatives from those organizations.
Doug CoombeMoms Demand Action Against Gun Violence Washtenaw County lead Rochelle Igrisan at Huron Heights Apartments.
"I have been so impressed by the amount of services out there, but I don't think people know about them and don't avail themselves of it," Igrisan says.

Joy Girma, founder of POP Ministries, says she has "always wanted to do something" at Huron Heights.

"I used to live there, and it was a nice place to raise your children," Girma says. "But that complex is off the chain at this point, and there are a lot of survivors [of gun violence] there. I've wanted to do this for years."

The following Saturday, June 8, the same organizations will host the 3rd Annual Stop the Gun Violence Community Outreach from 1-4 p.m. at Prospect Park in Ypsilanti. There will be music, speakers, food, and activities.
Doug CoombeMoms Demand Action Against Gun Violence Washtenaw County lead Rochelle Igrisan at Huron Heights Apartments.
Igrisan calls this a "celebration of life" for gun violence survivors while also honoring those lost to gun violence, including Girma's nephew, Von Cratic, who was fatally shot in Ypsilanti Township on Thanksgiving Day in 2021.

The June 8 event coincides with the "Wear Orange" weekend organized by Everytown For Gun Safety, the parent organization of Moms Demand Action, which encourages people to wear orange to show support for ending gun violence. Event attendees will wear orange and give out orange T-shirts.

"Hunters wear orange, so it means 'Don't shoot,'" Igrisan says. 

The organizations

Igrisan clarifies that Moms Demand Action is not against gun ownership and is not seeking to ban guns.

"We don't say you shouldn't have guns, but if you do have them, be safe," Igrisan says. "That's why we always hand out gun locks when we table at events."

Girma says she founded her nonprofit after Cratic's death, when she began researching resources for families who lose a loved one to gun violence. She has been co-sponsoring the community outreach event with Moms Demand Action the last two years and again this June.
Doug CoombeHuron Students Demand Action president Selene Koremenos-Tsebelis at Huron High School
She has many of the same goals as Moms Demand Action, including educating the public about safely storing guns, but she's also interested in lobbying for legislation related to the issue. Additionally, she is passionate about spreading the word about VOCA, a program that provides funds to victims' family members for funeral costs, counseling, and more.

School shootings around the country and Moms Demand Action's work inspired students at Ann Arbor's Huron High School to create a student group, Huron Students Demand Action. The group's president is Selene Koremenos-Tsebelis, now a junior. She started the group with a friend at the end of her freshman year in response to the "sheer amount" of these shootings but says one incident stood out in particular.

"We led a walkout at our school in response to the mass amount of shootings and the mass amount of students, hundreds of students, lost," she says. "The shooting in Oxford stood out to me in particular because of the location, and how it compared to where I go to school."

She and others from her organization will table at both events, and Koremenos-Tsebelis will speak at the June 8 event.
Doug CoombeHuron Students Demand Action president Selene Koremenos-Tsebelis at Huron High School.
"We'll be handing out resources and speaking with people, talking about how they can get involved with our chapter if they're interested," she says. "It's such a wonderful event, and it's so important to recognize the impact of gun violence, come together, make connections, and try to solve the problems we're facing."

"We're not about taking away guns from people unless a court of law has decided it's not safe for them to have one," she says. "We're for responsible ownership so we can ensure safety for kids, family, friends, and everybody."

For more information about Moms Demand Action or the upcoming events, email Igrisan at igrisanrochelle@gmail.com. For more about Huron Students Demand Action, email Huronstudentsdemandaction@gmail.com. Learn more about POP Ministries at powerofpredestiny.com.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

All photos by Doug Coombe.
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