Activist promotes gun buyback plan

Posted on 20 Jul 2006 at 8:07pm
By David Webb Staff Writer

Politicans, neighborhood leaders back nonviolence project in Mt. Auburn



Mike LoVuolo, vice president of the Mt. Auburn Neighborhood Association, Jim Foster, Democratic Party candidate for County Judge, and Emily Tobolowsky, candidtate for 298th District Civil Court judge, listen to civil rights speakers at Iglesia de Dios Church in East Dallas as they urge young people to embrace nonviolence.

Mike LoVuolo has a vision for his Mt. Auburn neighborhood in East Dallas one that’s free of the sound of gunfire.

LoVuolo, who is vice president of the Mt. Auburn Neighborhood Association and a board member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, brought neighborhood residents, political officials, Democratic candidates and Dallas police and fire safety officers together on Saturday for a summit on non-violence. A crowd gathered in the parking lot of Iglesia de Dios Church on Parkview Avenue to hear LoVuolo’s plans for a gun buyback program and to listen to civil rights leaders speak.

The event also featured a voter registration table.

“I’m a political activist and I’m a human rights activist, so I’m very excited about it,” said LoVuolo.

Martin Luther King III, who came to Dallas for a youth summit on non-violence in Oak Cliff, was also scheduled to speak at the East Dallas gathering, but a traffic jam in the Mixmaster kept him from attending. King’s travel itinerary forced him to head for Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport instead.

Representatives of King and the Rev. Peter Johnson of Dallas spoke in his place.

The event was held to help promote the gun buyback planned March 31, 2007, on the anniversary of deceased Hispanic labor leader Cesar Chavez’s birthday. The coordinators plan to exchange gift certificates for guns and to give children other types of toys in exchange for their toy guns.

“Maybe if they quit playing with them when they are young they will not want to play with them when they get older,” LuVuolo said.

The plan calls for the guns to be melted down and molded into a sculpture to be placed somewhere in the neighborhood.

LoVuolo said even though King was unable to attend, he felt a sense of accomplishment. About 100 people attended the outside event, despite blistering heat.

“We got our neighbors together and one of the churches involved with the neighborhood as well,” LoVuolo said.

Political officials attending the event included City Council member Pauline Medrano, who helped coordinate it, and Dallas Independent School District board members Adam Medrano and Ron Price. Former Dallas council member John Loza also attended.

Medrano, whose district includes the Mt. Auburn neighborhood, said she wants to help promote nonviolence and conflict resolution among youths.

“We’re trying to do something in terms of educating our youth and their families,” said Medrano, who noted that random gunfire is a big problem in the Mt. Auburn area.

Medrano said the key to improving the quality of life in a neighborhood is to get residents involved in helping clean it up and keeping it free of illegal activity.

The Rev. Sergio de la Garza, pastor of Iglesia de Dios, said he was proud for his church to be involved in the effort to improve the quality of the neighborhood’s life.

“I think it is a great challenge,” said Garza, whose church attracts about 125 worshipers each Sunday.

LuVuolo said he plans to ask King to return to Dallas for the gun buyback at the church next March.

Coordinators of the buyback are hoping to involve other neighborhoods with gunfire problems in similar projects, LuVuolo said.

E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 21, 2006.

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