'Silent March' assembles shoes of gun victims

September 29, 1996|By KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

Shalla Tanisha Gillum wanted to send her slain daughter's sandals to Washington, D.C.

But the barely worn sandals and clothing that 4-year-old Davisha Brantley Gillum wore the night she was fatally shot at a St. Paul, Minn., gas station are held as potential evidence while police hunt for her killers.

Instead, the girl's favorite sneakers will join an estimated 40,000 pairs from around the country tomorrow, circling the Capitol Reflecting Pool in Washington in silent testimony to the victims of gun-related murders, accidents and suicides each year.

Americans from all 50 states and Puerto Rico -- from the families and friends of victims to strangers -- are sending shoes along with notes, cards and pictures as part of the second annual "Silent March" display.

The event, billed as a national mobilization against gun violence, is supported and sponsored by a host of national and local groups and organizations.

"I just want to let people know that she [Davisha] should never be forgotten," said Gillum, 21. Davisha, who would have turned 5 on Sept. 23, was shot in the head July 20 when members of a St. Paul street gang fired at rivals and struck the girl as she sat in a family friend's car.

Her death prompted calls for a crackdown on such violence and expedited the formation of a countywide gang task force.

About 35,595 people were killed with firearms in 1993 in the United States, 47 percent of them homicides and 48 percent suicides.

According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, almost half of the children killed by guns between 1986 and 1992 were shot intentionally.

Of the 5,409 children under 15 killed by guns, the statistics showed, 47 percent were victims of homicide, 32 percent were killed by accident, and 19 percent committed suicide.

Pub Date: 9/29/96

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