A statement from Dr. Clarence B. Jones on gun violence today

On April 4th will be the 55th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination. August 28th will be the 60th anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom before more than 250,000 people assembled at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, in Washington, D.C.

With the support or Father Paul Fitzgerald, and the USF leadership and trustees, Jonathan Greenberg and I cofounded the Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice here at our university.

Since our initial operations and last November’s celebration event with Bryan Stevenson at Saint Ignatius Church, a series of mind-numbing, soul-chilling episodes of gun violence have occurred here in California.  As we celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year unspeakable acts of mass gun violence have occurred in violation of the essence and core of Dr. King’s legacy commitment to nonviolence.

The killings in Half Moon Bay, here in our own SF Bay Area community, also highlight the poverty and marginalization of Asian and Hispanic farmworkers whose lives are filled with immense vulnerability, isolation, and violence, whose very existence is hidden in the shadows of Silicon Valley’s wealth.

We may not yet have an effective answer that most people will agree are the causes for the rising incidents of gun violence in our state and country.  Nor will there be easily achieved solutions, especially given the political landscape of our nation today, and the Supreme Court’s unfortunate, excessively broad interpretation of the Second Amendment.

However, we do know that, as an operational motif and core principle of our Institute, and with dedication to the legacy of our beloved Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we cannot remain silent. We must, as best as we are able, raise our voices and join hands to publicly proclaim our unshakable continued commitment to nonviolence at this time.

Accordingly, let all who read this pledge, anew:  redouble your efforts to end the 24/ 7 killing fields of gun violence occurring here in our own communities, throughout California, and across our country today.

Silence is not an option. Raising our voices at this time, with as much impact as we can possibly muster, honors Dr. King as we approach the anniversary of his assassination on April 4, and the 60th anniversary of his I Have a Dream speech.

Unless we organize nonviolently to stop gun violence, Dr. King’s dream can never be realized in this country.

Only by insisting on nonviolence with fierce urgency; by speaking out against the ubiquity of guns and the scourge of gun proliferation in every state; and by doing everything we can to heal our communities and nation from the immense public health epidemic of gun violence, can we follow the path of justice and love Dr. King set out for us.   Only then can we be steadfast in our dedication to the restorative vision of America he shared with us, and only then can we make it true.

Dr. Clarence B. Jones