Parishioners who attended the Palm Sunday service at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery received white T-shirts at the end of the service along with their palm branches.
It was part of the East Village church’s exhibition on child victims of gun violence. On each t-shirt: the name, age and state of different child victims. The attendees then proceeded to the lawn on the compound to place the t-shirts on 100 crosses erected on the lawn.
This is the fourth year that the church has carried out various initiatives to spread the message about gun violence. After the June 2016 Orlando shooting, the church gave out orange t-shirts and arranged them in a similar exhibition.
“Holy Week is time to mediate and think about things. It’s a good time to remind people about the gun issue,” opined Dolores Schaefer, member of the Westry at St. Mark’s.
Posters with facts about the gun violence epidemic were pasted on metal bars that surrounded the church .The names on each of the 100 crosses are all child victims, who were 11-years-old and younger, who died during the last six months. More than 60 percent of crosses bore the names of children who found an unintended gun.
Thirty two of the cases were victims of domestic violence, murder/suicides, where the husband boyfriend or husband killed the children, mother and then themselves. There weren’t any names from New York or Connecticut on any of the crosses because where it is not easy to obtain guns in these states. Most of the victims came from the South and Midwest, said Schaefer.
Tian Xu, a 26-year-old health insurance worker, who walked in to look at the exhibition said he thought it was a burial ground as white symbolizes mourning in Asian cultures.
“I am quite shocked at seeing how young these victims are,” he said. “We usually think victims of gun violence as gang members who step out on the street.”